Bel Canto

I don’t usually write about books or post book reviews on my site, but I have just finished what is arguably one of the best novels I’ve ever read and had to let people know. The plot is intriguing and based loosely on the Lima Crisis. A world-famous opera singer is invited to perform at a private party being hosted by the vice president of a South American country (which one is never stated) and paid for by one of the soprano’s biggest fans, an extremely wealthy Japanese businessman who is in town to consider opening up a factory there. However, things go awry when terrorists break into the vice president’s mansion. They were originally looking to kidnap the president, who was supposed to be in attendance but never showed up, so instead the terrorists take the roughly 100 guests hostage.

Yet this is not a shoot-’em-up, fast-paced thriller. This is the most unlikely love story I’ve come across, a unique mix of Lord of the Flies and The Map of Love.  Beautifully wrought, intricately described and unbelievably realistic, Ann Patchett puts on a clinic for writers. The storytelling is so tight you keep forgetting you’re reading fiction. The prose is lyrical, and while cleverly subdued, it remains poignant throughout the book. The two love stories she creates out of this most unlikely scenario are also nothing short of heartbreakingly mesmerizing.

Along the way, you’ll learn a ton about opera, but not in some pedantic, academic way that will have you yawning and looking to throw the book down. An immensely talented writer, Patchett allows her heroine, Roxane Coss, to deliver the story on opera through a spellbinding series of events that will have people actually wanting to go and download an opera and listen to it while reading.

Many of us are often wondering what to read next. Well, here’s your answer. Go and pick this up and do yourself a favour, especially if you’re a writer/aspiring writer and want to see genius at work.

 

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