Book Review

BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett

Rating: 4.5 / 5

After really enjoying Ann Patchett’s THE DUTCH HOUSE last year, I have been keeping an eye out for more of her books at the bookstores I visit and found BEL CANTO. When I saw that this fit my reading prompt for a Women’s Prize for Fiction winner, it was an easy pick!

BEL CANTO is set in an unnamed South American country where a group of people have gatherered to celebrate the birthday of a Japanese business man Mr. Hosokawa along with an international slate of guests. His favorite opera singer Roxanne Coss has been brought in to perform at the home of the vice president.

The book begins as the room goes suddenly dark, terrorists storming the house in search of the country’s president, a man who made a last minute decision to stay home to watch tv instead of attending the party. They let the staff and most of the women go, but hold onto the men and the opera singer as hostages in a long lasting standoff.

This book begins right in the middle of the action and it really drew me right in. Ann Patchett’s writing is amazing in this! I loved following the different characters and how they changed and evolved over time. They begin as enemies, terrorists with an agenda and the hostages who are just there as collateral in the political maneuvering, but over time they form bonds that feel natural. Not everything is good, but there are moments of beauty in the midst.

I really loved the book as a whole and I was satisfied with the way the author brought a conclusion to the standoff. I did struggle a bit with the epilogue which seemed to open more questions than it helped tie things up and I am not sure how I feel about it. I wound up watching the movie over the weekend and I think it is one case where they improved on the final moments in the movie vs. the book. Still, this was a fantastic read and I can see why it was an award winner!

Reading Challenges:

#PopsugarReadingChallenge – a book that has won the Women’s Prize for Fiction

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