Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
rating: 5 of 5 stars
Patchett tells you in the beginning what is going to happen in the end. But, you won't believe it.
A dinner party for an illustrious japanese business man goes horribly wrong when it is taken over by terrorists who mistakenly believe that the president of the unnamed south american country will be attending. The president stayed home to watch his favorite soap opera instead of attending what was supposed to be the most important night of his country's future. The terrorists had planned to have the president and be out of the building within just a few minutes, but when they find out he really and truly isn't there they decide to take everyone hostage. As the story unfolds what starts as a hostage situation becomes much more complex. The terrorists and hostages spend each day, every day, in close proximity. The terrorists are for the most part barely older than children, two of them are female. There are three older generals in charge, but they start to seclude themselves from the day to day terrorist business. The mansion of the party becomes the universe to everyone and roles become blurred. People are people, after all, regardless of whether they wear the old worn fatigues of a terrorist or the neatly pressed tuxedo or evening gown of a hostage.
Crying on the tollway into work is always awkward. Because no matter what the author tells you at the beginning, the ending will still shock and sadden you. The book unfolds at a leisurely pace, but still manages to be a fairly quick listen (only 9 discs!) Anna Fields/Kate Fleming had her leant her ability towards creating nuanced characters without ever distracting from the story. Patchett's and situations are so well drawn, her since of timing and exposition and dialogue could have been so stilted and far fetched but instead flow into complete suspension of disbelief.
This is definitely a book to recommend to my mom.
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