Genre: Literary Fiction
For: Book Club
From: the library
I read this book several years ago and loved it. So when I saw it was on the library's book club set list, I suggested it to the book club and it was our book of discussion last night. And once again, I learned that just because I love a book and think it's amazing does not mean everyone else will think the same thing! Amazing how that works! :)
For those who haven't read this one, it's about a party gone very very wrong. During a Japanese business man's birthday party, where his most favorite opera singer has come as a special guest, terrorists infiltrate the home and take the whole group hostage. They have demands, and they hoped the president of the unnamed country would be there so they could get some of those demands met. Well, he's not there; he had a "change of plans." So this hostage situation ends up being drawn out over several months and what happens between the hostages and the terrorists in the meantime is what this book is about.
Reasons why I loved it: (quoting from my own comment on Goodreads!)
1. The feelings and discussions about music speak to me.
2. The love story is moving.
3. The character development is fabulous.
4. The emotional involvement is intense.
5. The ending is tragic (but I still don't like the epilogue ending. It was weird and wrong.)
6. The writing is lyrical, yet simple, which is the kind of writing I'm drawn to.
7. There's so many quotes from this book that I love, but there was one that really stood out to me this time. It is found near the end of the book when one of the boy terrorists is learning how to sing and the terrorist general observes: "It makes you wonder. All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how." Wow. Does that not make you sit back and wonder about your own life, and what you might/could/should perhaps be doing with it?
8. I love it when the line between the good guys and the bad guys is very very blurry.
Some observations made at book club last night regarding Bel Canto (small spoilers possible):
- For some people, the book was completely ruined by the epilogue, even if they enjoyed the writing, the characters and the stories in the whole rest of the book.
- Some people didn't agree with ANY of my statements above, meaning they didn't connect with any of the characters, or feel any emotional attachment to their situation or concern about what might happen to them.
- Several people did agree that the writing was quite intriguing and enjoyable.
- Several others felt the writing was boring and compared it to Faulkner, as in, long and drawn out.
- Most of us agreed that opera is not the type of music that would draw a crowd of complete strangers together.
- Most of us also agreed that listening to a soprano opera diva practice all day long would wear on the nerves instead of making us hang on every note in awe.
- All of us learned that this book was based on a real life hostage situation that happened in Lima Peru in 1996.
- Most of us loved the love stories, but some of us felt that one was authentic and one was not.
- For the most part, I think we all enjoyed the book, despite it's various flaws.
Have you read this book? Do you agree with the book club's observations, or not?
P.S. I had fun playing everyone some opera music as we gathered last night. I don't really know what everyone else thought, but I thought it was quite fun! Here's a sample:
Now, even if you don't like opera, you gotta love that!! :)