04 MarBel Canto by Ann Patchett 7/52

Stockholm Syndrome is a fascinating topic to me.  It’s amazing how a hostage can develop feelings of fondness towards a captor, yet it happens.

Bel Canto begins with a birthday party in the home of the Vice President of a poor, unnamed country in South America.  The party is in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese mogul, whom, it is hoped, will build a factory in the country, which will help with some of the poverty and crime. Mr. Hosokawa who originally declined the invitation, changed his mind when he heard that Roxane Coss, a world-famous opera singer was to perform.

The party is invaded by a group of political terrorists who take everyone hostage.  Some of the hostages are released, but the rest were held captive for months.  During this time, amazingly, relationships between the captor and hostage develop, and mutual trust is established.

One of my favorite parts of Bel Canto is the fact that Roxane Coss continues to practice to sing.  She is accompanied by a pianist, and every day their music is revered by hostage and terrorist alike.  The power of her beautiful voice transcends the terrifying situation, and also serves to unify; everyone is the same – wealthy businessman and rebel from the jungle.

Ann Patchett is not a literary award-winner for nothing.  In Bel Canto she creates characters that you fall in love with, and writes with a surprisingly easy-to-read lyricism.

My only complaint would be about the few sexual incidents that I would deem inappropriate.  I easily skimmed past these.

I give Bel Canto a 4/5 stars!


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