So… Bel Canto is a book that intrigues me although I have never read it. I like the thought of the book the possibility of the book makes me feel as though all could be right in the world and oh that makes me happy….
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.
Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:
Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God’s own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven. ~Amazon
I actually own three copies of the book and yes, like I mentioned before…I have never read it. Yet I own three copies because every time I see it at a sale, I am reminded that I want to read this… and I think, it is going to speak to me and therefore I am ready with additional copies to gush to my friends that it is a must read and hey don’t sweat finding it because I have a copy right here…. or, something like that. 😛
Now I am inviting you to experience Bel Canto with me. It is a different read a long for me because while loved by some, others have found it to be unreal and impossible. And yet, here I am asking you to take the Bel Canto leap with me.
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