Page 1 of 1 1
Topic Options
#91488 - 03/20/12 08:14 AM April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
April is around the corner, and that means it's time for Ann Patchett's Bel Canto. The New Yorker's mini-review notes,
 Quote:
An impoverished South American country hosts a birthday extravaganza for a Japanese industrialist in the hope of securing new foreign investment. The lure? An internationally renowned lyric soprano. Indeed, when Roxane Coss sings, even the ragtag terrorists who are about to flood through the air-conditioning vents and take the guests hostage hold their breath, transported by the beauty of her voice. Patchett's tragicomic novel—a fantasia of guns and Puccini and Red Cross negotiations—invokes the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics, and love. Against this grand backdrop, the smallest gestures bloom with meaning: a pretty governess stitching up the cheek of her employer with her sewing kit; a young terrorist discovering the tyranny of wearing a watch; an exasperated French diplomat risking his life to peel an eggplant with a proper knife.(from: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2001/06/18/010618crbn_brieflynoted2)


I know that some of you weren't wild about the novel, and I'm hoping that translates into a lively discussion.

Discussion begins on April 15. Happy reading!

Top
#91508 - 04/02/12 09:03 AM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
Bump! Discussion of Bel Canto begins on April 15.
Top
#91512 - 04/10/12 08:10 AM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
*bump*
Top
#91516 - 04/15/12 07:50 PM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1895
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Offline
I'm not quite finished Bel Canto yet. I will probably be done before bedtime, but it's been a looooong day, and I thought maybe I'd kick off the discussion just in case.

So far, I'm really enjoying the book (I'm about 3/4 done), but I'm afraid to articulate what I like about it, in the fear that those things will fall apart at the end. It's weird, because I don't think I usually have that sort of reaction. I'm just so taken by the characterization, even for the relatively minor characters -- Simon Thibault, for instance, utterly charms me with his love for his wife. And Ruben Iglesias, still playing the genial host after weeks and weeks of detainment, and realizing that he kind of likes it. I feel this tightness in my chest about Gen and Carmen, because I know that it can't possibly end well, and it's going to break my heart.

I'll post more when I'm finished! What did the rest of you think?


Edited to add: *sob* If I weren't at work right now, I'd be crying. Even though Patchett tells us upfront what's going to happen, I'm still inconsolable. That's pretty impressive.


Edited by LaSalleUGirl (04/16/12 03:27 PM)

Top
#91522 - 04/18/12 07:03 AM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
Anne's Friend Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 353
Loc: Cambridge, United Kingdom

Offline
Bother! I was convinced that I had a copy of this at home (I'm an opera fanatic, so the title grabbed my attention in the shop), but I couldn't find it last night. More hunting required...
Top
#91525 - 04/18/12 06:40 PM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: Anne's Friend]
Soubrette



Registered: 01/27/11
Posts: 22
Loc: Japan

Offline
Hmmm. I'm not sure how I feel about this book exactly. At first I loved it, and had that great feeling you get when a book is actually as good as it's supposed to be. As I went on though, it started to lose me. Roxane started to seem more and more self-centred and entitled and the relationship between Gen and Carmen kind of bothered me - although I suppose it's really the trope of 'urban, educated man falls for uneducated (but beautiful and pure!) village girl' that bothers me.

On the up side, I did like Patchett's writing and would definitely read her again. The deaths of the terrorists - especially the other female terrorist with the German hostage running towards her stayed with me for the rest of the day. The book also got me listening to some opera which is an art form I'd like to be more familiar with.

I also loved the minor characters! I wanted to know more about them especially Ruben Iglesias and the Swiss negotiator - what became of them afterwards?

Top
#91533 - 04/24/12 11:21 PM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: Soubrette]
Kivrin Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/01/00
Posts: 4604
Loc: Santa Cruz, CA, USA

Offline
I know how you feel about it, Soubrette. I felt pretty much the same way. Loved it at first and then somewhere in the middle, I became bored with the characters, and truly bored with the "scenery"--which actually demonstrates Patchett's writing brilliance--that I, as a reader, felt as though I was being held hostage...

The prose is so beautifully written and that is what carried me to the end. And the ending? How else could it go? It stayed with me too. Ultimately compelling. I am glad to have read it. I plan to read all of Patchett's novels eventually, but this is not my favorite out of the ones I've read so far. State of Wonder is.

Top
#91535 - 04/29/12 05:06 PM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: Kivrin]
CaitlinM2



Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 457
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

Offline
I read Bel Canto close to when it came out (in paperback), then again a few years ago. I loved Patchett's prose, and also found the evolving and changing of the relationships between characters and within individuals fascinating, in both the main and minor characters. I found that, both times I read it, it stayed with me after I finished it and it's interesting that it seems to have that effect even on those who aren't wholly satisfied with it.
Top
#91549 - 05/10/12 10:43 PM Re: April 2012 Selection: Bel Canto [Re: CaitlinM2]
grapevyne
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/02/01
Posts: 230

Offline
I have been meaning to read a Patchett novel for years and now I wish I would have started sooner. I fell in love with the book when she introduced me to the word garua -more than a mist less than a drizzle. The scenary seemed to be a character in itself. First it was a beautiful manicured garden, then shrouded in the garua, finally it becomes an overgrown yard for playing in. I agree that it was the minor characters that meant the most to me. I also liked thinking about how they all came to be there. The kidnappers especially. At one time the General is teaching school, then he recruits children and they all become kidnappers. I have already started pushing this book on people.
Top
Page 1 of 1 1


Moderator:  Kivrin, Bear, LaSalleUGirl, PrimulaMary, StephA 
Hop to: