Monday, October 09, 2006

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This was an 'Illiteracy Club' read (my work book club) chosen by our Head of Finance. I already suspected that we liked the same kind of books and this confirms it.

I really enjoyed this book - so many characters and an increasingly bizarre plot that adds humour to what could have been the premise for a Robert Ludlum type thriller if it chose to be. The basic plot is: party for Japanese diplomat in South American Vice-President's house; terrorists break in and take hostages; hostage situation goes on for an in-ordinately long amount of time.

I think the key to the success of the book is mix of hostages and the mix of terrorists and how they build relationships between each other. The terrorists turn out to be fairly mild mannered as terrorists go and when they realise the hopelessness of the situation rather than resorting to violence they drift off with the hostages into a more pleasant alternate reality. In truth except for one man who is missing his wife most of the characters would rather stay in the mansion forever - rather than face the disappointment that returning to the real world will bring.

The only real weakness of the book for me was the epilogue. Wholly unnecessary and the sort of thing a Hollywood director would stick on the end so it ended on a more positive note. I wish I had just not read the last few pages and the sappiness (and unlikeliness) really bugged me.

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