I’ve mentioned before how much I loveeeee my book club. Not only are they some of my closest friends, but they make book club one of my favorite nights of the month! One of our annual Christmas traditions is a dinner and book exchange. We all bring one of our favorite reads, wrap them up and then exchange books (like White Elephant style). It’s so much fun and I have to say this year’s stash was one of the best yet. I got Bel Canto and have been looking forward to reading it for quite some time.
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.
This isn’t the type of story I usually read – not for any specific reason, but I tend to move toward the historical world (another reason to love book club, they bring different styles into my reading universe), but I’m so glad I did. Much like the singer’s beautiful voice in this book, the story and writing flow just as lyrically and sometimes reads like a song. At some points the story was more quiet, some points building up and then the final crescendo.
The relationships that form in a chaotic situation, the bonds, the stories of both hostage and terrorist…all of these things were unexpected, yet completely intrigued me. It’s what forms, what develops and how in a dark scenario, beauty can still rise up. It was such a different look at this type of situation and I was fully invested with the characters.
I also loved how this whole story showed the power and beauty of music – how it transcends language barriers and cultures and can connect people on a powerful level. I’m thankful I had the chance to read this book.
(Heads up: Adult themes and material, but all done in a tasteful way)
Have you read any of Ann Patchett’s books?