I read Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, a couple of months ago but never got around to posting a blog on it. Between getting ready for vacation and then actually travelling for a few weeks, it fell by the wayside but I am correcting that now because it was such a fantastic novel and one that affected me deeply.
Synopsis (extracted from Amazon blurb):
At a birthday party for Japanese industrialist Mr. Hosokawa somewhere in South America, famous American soprano Roxanne Coss is just finishing her recital in the Vice President's home when armed terrorists appear, intending to take the President hostage. However, he is not there, so instead they hold the international businesspeople and diplomats at the party, releasing all the women except Roxanne. Captors and their prisoners settle into a strange domesticity, with the opera diva captivating them all as she does her daily practicing. Soon romantic liaisons develop with the hopeless intensity found in many opera plots.When I first found out that Bel Canto was a hostage story, I was not thrilled, but since I loved Patchett's State of Wonder and The Story of a Happy Marriage, I decided to trust her to give me a good book. She did!
I was enthralled almost from the beginning, and came to love and understand and be invested in all the characters, the revolutionaries (both the leaders and the child soldiers) as well as the hostages. I thought Patchett's exploration of the relationships that can develop between people who share a space in the world, even when separated by language, background, and prospects was profound.
I was absolutely crushed by the ending. I kept on wondering how Patchett could save the revolutionaries, and she didn't and I cried for them. Also, I didn't buy that Roxanne Cox and Gen were a real couple at the end. That came out of the blue and made no sense to me, given the rest of the story and who they were and who they cared about. I've searched a bit and it seems like a lot of readers felt the same way about the ending that I did.
I read this book as part of the TBR Pile Challenge for 2016.