Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Beautifully written, this book reminded me of reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The “unreality” of it all.  Not meant to be taken literally.   Loved the way the narrator was upfront about what happened later in the story because then our concentration is on how it all unfolds.  Great use of the omniscient point of view. The narrator puts his spin and interpretation of events as they are unfolding.  People coming together and crossing the artificial boundaries that we put up to separate ourselves. The characters are able to find themselves as they are being held hostage. Their needs and wants, and also those of the hostage takers, are reduced yet intensified with their limitations as hostages. (I’m sure there is a better word for hostage takers, but I can’t think of one now. Captors?)

It was interesting to hear another friend’s perspective on this book.  I had heard before reading it that it was either hated or loved.  After talking with my friend who hated it, I better understand the polarization. Suspension of disbelief is necessary to enjoy this book.  Her main reason for not being able to enjoy the book was predicated on her belief that people in a hostage situation wouldn’t behave in this way, and she has a point, they wouldn’t. However for me, it wasn’t so far from the realms of possibility. In horrific situations people do amazing things to adapt, and will often identify with their captors.  I was willing to suspend disbelief because I was caught up in the greater beauty of the connections the characters starting making with themselves and with each other.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys beautiful and lyrical prose in a tale that leans heavily on the fantastical.

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