Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Book Info:
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial (August 2, 2005)
ISBN-13: 978-0060838720
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 2.75/5

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage.

But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.

If you read my Tuesday Teaser post from a while back, you already know that I struggled a bit with this book. I did end up finishing it, and I'm glad that I did, but it won't be one that I will be recommending too often.

Bel Canto is not an action packed book. I wasn't expecting constant action like in a mystery, but I thought there would be more action than there was. If you are looking for action, this is not the book for you. The main focus of this book seems to be Patchett's writing, more than the plot or the character development. I think Patchett writes beautifully, but her prose alone wasn't enough to hold my interest over 350 pages.

The interaction between the hostages and the terrorists was interesting, but I wished there was more of it. I didn't feel that I got to know any of the characters very well, and I think more interaction between the two groups would have helped this. If someone asked me to describe that characters, I would be able to give much detail beyond the most superficial information.

Even with all the pieces that didn't work for me, I'm still glad I finished it. The story was interesting, I just wish it had been about 100 pages shorter. This will not be the last Ann Patchett book I read. I think she writes beautifully, and I really enjoyed her other books I've read. 2.75 stars


Meghan said...

What really appealed to me about this book was the way that the captives and the terrorists formed a little community over such a short time. I think it showcased the ability of people to adapt to even the strangest circumstances and the fact that if humans are placed into contact with other humans long enough, the similarities will emerge more than the differences.

Of course, we can only hope that happens in real life, but I thought it was very interesting.

Sandy Nawrot said...

A mom at my kids' school recommended this book to me, and I wrote it down, but that was as far as I got. You definitely have to be in the right mood for a book about inter-relationships.

Zibilee said...

I read this one quite awhile ago, and don't really remember what my thoughts on it were. I recently read a few chapters of another book by this author, called Run. I thought it was terrible and I didn't end up getting all the way through it. I found the prose to be a little clumsy and the character integration was awkward. I also have Truth and Beauty on my shelf. I have heard that it is excellent and that there is a lot of controversy surrounding it. I am excited to read it. Thanks for your honest review.

Melissa said...

That's too bad that Run wasn't good. I've got it somewhere on my shelves...I loved Truth and Beauty, probably even more than Autobiography of a Face. If you haven't read Autobiography of a Face definitely read it before Truth and Beauty.

Literary Feline said...

I have been wanting to read this one, even with all the mixed reviews I've read about it. It's not one I'm rushing to get to just yet though. Thanks for another great review!

Teddy Rose said...

This book has been on my TBR ever since it was publishsed however, the more reviews I read about it the more I think I will pass on it.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

This is the only book I've read by Patchett, but I've heard others say that this book was too long or a little dull. I really loved it, but I like character books. The only thing that didn't sit well with me was the ending. I just thought, really? Putting them together? To me it was a cop out.