Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, 319 pages
Orange January; Orange Prize Winner: 2002
Can there be a love story when rebels hold people hostage? How about when no one speaks the same language? Is opera the universal language?
In an unnamed South American country, rebels take over the birthday party of Mr Hosakawa, hosted by the country in hopes that he will open a factory there. He has only agree to come because the famous soprano, Roxanne Coss will be singing. Unfortuneately, the president, the purpose of the kidnapping, decided at the last minute not to come to the party. The kidnapping turns into a Dog Day Afternoon, with no where to go and a long session. The rebels and the hostages gradually become closer as the seige continues.
The characters are beautifully written and given a story so easily that the reader knows who everyone is and all their history. Gradually the rebels are introduced and fleshed out as the hostages get to know them. The story unfolds so graciously and easily that it is easy to forget the violence of the situation. Everyone is a person we care about and want the best for. The Stockholm syndrome, whereby hostages begin to care for their captors, is easily developed and the reader becomes a part of that too. The pacing of the story was excellent and kept the feel of the events.
Really good book.