Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bel Canto - Ann Patchett

In an unnamed South American country, a birthday dinner party is being held in honour of a Japanese industrialist. Prominent political and industrial guers are in attendance, while Roxanne Coss, a famous opera singer, enthralls the crowd with her virtuoso performance.

Little do they know until the lights go out, that a rag-tag group of terrorists plan to use the President as a hostage. Unfortunately, the President stayed at home to watch his favourite soap opera, leaving the terrorists with a major flaw in their plans.

Patchett moves the focal point of the story between the hostages and the terrorists, revealing the good and bad in each. The 58 hostages have no common language, other than the glorious music provided by Roxanne and the pianist. As they spend many months together trapped in the Vice-Presidential house, the lines between hostages and terrorists becomes blurred. Patchett beautifully builds the tension and the eerie feeling of suspended reality within the palace.

Bel Canto is an elegantly written book which shows the noble side of human nature. Like other books set in South America, she captures a dreamy, escapist atmosphere most excellently.

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