Nancy's Reviews > Bel Canto

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
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Feb 26, 12

bookshelves: read-2012, book-club
Read from January 14 to February 24, 2012

Five stars on Goodreads for me has come to mean that which is good enough to rise high above whatever inevitable problems there are. If I find a truly perfect book, I'll be sure to SAY that it's more than five.

I read Ann Patchett's newer book, State of Wonder first. I gave it five stars as well. It's been a while since I read two books back to back by the same author and was impressed by them both. That happened with these two. I think she's a good writer.

This book didn't grab me the way State of Wonder did. It was a very slow slog until I began to bond with the characters. And yet, bond, I did. This book is different. To appreciate it, you have to take it all metaphorically. Even though the author says she's trying to make it "operatic" and that it is unashamedly "melodramatic, to me, it's not about the action or the drama but about tiny, subtle, day-to-day changes within the boredom of daily life. In this case, the character's daily lives are about being held hostage. But within that, there's very little terror. Kind of like real life. We know terrible things could happen to us any day, but mostly those things don't happen, so we just do not think about them. Change takes place but slowly and subtly and that is how we come to know the characters in Bel Canto.

There are unbelievable things in this plot. Maybe that's what Ms. Patchett is talking about when she calls it operatic. They are devices, used to further the metaphor. I can allow her these because she pulls it off and because this is a book that is still making me think about life lived day to day to day.
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