I realized recently that for the past two years my “year in books” posts haven’t featured any fiction in my favorites list. The good news is, 2012’s list is going to include at least one piece of fiction, because Ann Patchett’s novel Bel Canto is amazing. It’s the sort of book that draws you in, makes you completely identify with the characters, and then surprises you at the ending. Along the way I promise you will grow to love opera. It’s a lovely, lovely book and you must read it.
The premise of the novel is a kidnapping in a South American country, and an exploration of Stockholm Syndrome, love, language, music, and identity. It’s not a violent book, except for a few moments (which are not detailed, but rather shocking because you have become attached to the characters and are surprised), which may surprise you given the set-up. However, the book is primarily concerned with the development of relationships and uses languages and music to illustrate the process of forming attachments. Patchett does a masterful job at character development and quite rightly won the Pen/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize.
I took a seminar on opera in college and this book made me want to get back into it. I love novels that draw me in to topics and subjects that I didn’t previously know much about. If you don’t already love opera, I think you might at least understand how some people can after reading this novel.
I really enjoyed Bel Canto and would highly recommend it to you.
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