Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

17 Apr

Bel CantoMy Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars

While they never say exactly where this story takes place, I read on the author’s website that it is loosely based on the 1996 hostage situation in Lima, Peru where several politicians, entertainers, and diplomats were held hostage by a terrorist group during an event hosted at the Japanese ambassador’s house. 

This novel begins with the hostages coming into the private residence of the Vice-President (of some country in South or Latin America) who is hosting a birthday party for a Japanese businessman.  Hostages come in, chaos ensues.  For a while.  After several weeks, the hostages remain, but the chaos subsides and a tentative relationship begins to form between the guests themselves and with their captors.

This book makes a GREAT book club book.  There’s many facets and characters to discuss.  I found the fixation on Roxane Cross a bit unrealistic, although I liked that angle.  It was just a bit too much.  The situation is unbelievable yet realistic at the same time.  And while the plot lulls in a few spots the ending is worth it. 

The concept of the translator interwoven in this story was also such a wise commentary on globalization.  So many different languages that posed a barrier some of the time yet was irrelevant sometimes. 

It is rare that a novel really digs into human nature in the way this book does.  It’s really a reflection on relationships and human interactions in a way you rarely see in novels.

If we were revising the reading list for high schoolers, I would recommend this one be on it.

 

 

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2 Responses to “Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett”

  1. Spring April 18, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    So glad you liked it! I LOVED this one and agree the ending is worth any lulls. Its been a few years since I have read it but I still talk about it. I also read Run by Anne Patchett. I thought it was interesting but didnt like it as much as Bel Canto.

  2. Julie April 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    I really enjoyed this book, too, but I also thought the Roxane fixation was a bit over-the-top. Everyone being SO enthralled by her voice was hard for me to relate to. I did enjoy the combo of countries/cultures/languages.

    I like Ann Patchett’s writing and need to check out some more of her work..Did you see her harsh words about no Pulitzer in fiction this year?

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