Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
On the library stacks: Adult fiction
Awards: Orange Prize for Fiction (2002), Book Sense Book of the Year Award for Paperback (2003), PEN/Faulkner Award (2002)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
So one of my goals this year is to either read or get rid of books that have been languishing on my bookshelves for years. I figure that if a book has been on my Goodreads to-read list for over 4 years, it's time to read up or ship out. My mother-in-law recommended this book to me years (and years!) ago. I was really impressed with this author when I read State of Wonder last year, so my expectations were high.
This book is based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis that took place in Peru on December 17, 1996 and lasted 126 days. I was in college then and I'm afraid to admit, I don't remember anything about it. The book opens right as the opera singer finishes her last aria and the terrorists seize control of the home of the Vice-President. It turns out that these terrorists are a pretty sorry lot of terrorists because they didn't even realize the President was not there, and he was their main target. Eventually they release all but 50-some odd hostages, leaving a group of men and one female--the lovely opera singer.
It's a slow-moving story, with a lot of background information. There really isn't much in the way of action and the author tells the reader how everything is going to end up right from the start. I did appreciate that since I started to feel somewhat benevolent towards the young terrorists. The book is interestingly written and uses both formal and informal tones. The ending seems to generate quite a bit of discussion and I will just say that I thought the epilogue was just...weird. Overall I would say I'm glad I read it, but it's not going to be a favorite.
Also reviewed by: My Friend Amy ~ Bibliophile By the Sea ~ 1morechapter.com ~ Linus's Blanket ~ It's All About Books
8 minutes ago