The Mind Wobbles

So many things to absorb, think about, deal with and put up with - it simply makes the mind wobble...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review - "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett

I had been hearing about Ann Patchett's Bel Canto for a while and was intrigued by the description on the back cover, so when a friend offered to pass it on to me I jumped at the opportunity.

It tells the story of an unnamed South American country whose Vice President is hosting a birthday party for a wealthy Japanese businessman in the hope he will invest in the country. In order to lure the business man his favorite opera singer, an American woman, is provided as the entertainment. The country's President is supposed to attend but for a sadly ridiculous reason he winds up being a no-show. So when the rag-tag group of "terrorists" arrive to kidnap him, they wind up stuck in a house full of people they didn't want and don't know what to do with. As time passes, the hostages bond with each other and with the hostage-takers - but they're still hostages. The terrorist leaders are too proud to give up but don't know how to continue, so they make it up as they go along with only the faintest hint of control and discipline.

What follows is a well-told tale of survival, endurance, understanding and personal growth. Patchett develops the wide cast of characters beautifully as you see them evolve from terror, to anger, to resignation and finally to friendship and love. There is plenty of humor, some romance and even a little bit of intrigue and the setting, while limited to the house, is well established. At one point I felt like one of the hostages watching the events unfold around me and becoming invested in how everything would turn out.

I definitely recommend this book. It's an easy read but it has substance and will make you think. Check it out!

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