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Ann Patchett's second novel, Bel Canto, tells the tale of fifty-nine people that were held hostage in an unnamed country in South America. The hostages, which include international ambassadors, Japanese businessmen, an opera singer, and local government officials, had gathered together to celebrate Katsumi Hosokawa's birthday. Hosokawa was being courted by local politicians to build a plant in their country. Bel Canto isn't the usual blood-and-guts tale of a hostage situation; instead, the novel focuses on the various hostages and terrorists and the relationships that grow amongst them all. Patchett takes her time telling this story, allowing each character, relationship and situation to grow and develop fully. In the end the reader is left wondering what was better, the reality of life before the hostage situation or the reality created within the walls of the Vice Presidential home in South America?
Reviewed by Robin W., Freedom Regional
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