Friday, December 27, 2013

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

First Line: "When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her."

Plot: Somewhere in South America, a lavish birthday party is thrown for the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Guests are mesmerized by the talent of the famous opera soprano Roxanne Coss. But then a group of terrorists bursts in and takes the entire party hostage. Slowly, the tense situation evolves into something very different, with music and love drawing everyone together despite their differences in language and intentions.

Comments: A very interesting novel with an unusual plot. It's not a story about a hostage situation so much as it's a story about very different people growing to coexist in a beautiful way. The plot is slow, meandering - Bel Canto is not a thriller or a fast-paced action novel. Rather, the poetry of the words and the intricate detail into many characters' lives quietly catch and hold the reader's interest. It's perfect for reading in bits and pieces: setting it down when the lack of action grows too tiring, and picking it back up when you're ready again for subtle storytelling.

The slow pace of the book was boring at times, but then suddenly Patchett would introduce a new subplot or delve deeply into the background of someone who had only been a minor character. I loved the detail behind every person and grew very attached to a few. The characters and their relationships with each other were what made the whole novel so intriguing. I liked the characters for different reasons, which is fitting because they were all very different people. Every character had flaws but also something beautiful. For me, the point was that everyone is beautiful in their own way.

The way Patchett writes is, as said previously, poetic. The style of writing is beautiful by itself, with simple descriptions and smoothly flowing words. I spoke every word in my head as I read, which is not something I normally do.

The ending was not surprising, but I must admit I would have liked a happier one. I'd grown to care for the characters and it's always hard when they don't live happily ever after. Still, it was fitting to the story, I felt.

Overall, this was a wonderfully written novel with a slow, subtle, and beautiful plot. It's about human interaction and relationships, and about what happens when people are given a new life to explore. It's about ignoring language boundaries to create friendship and love. it's quiet, but it creeps into your head and touches you unexpectedly.

Rating: I rate Bel Canto a nine out of ten.

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