There is no question, Ann Patchett's ability with the written word is certainly one to admire. This is the first book of her's that I have listened to or read and I picked it up on the recommendations of the other reviewers. However, all that being said, I was sorely disappointed by this book. These are the nicest terrorists I've ever heard of, the characters are unbelievable and over-dramatic, and the ending is abrupt and lame. It almost seemed like Ann got tired of writing and needed an easy out.
In my opinion, what started out with such promise simply fell flat. I thought Ann wrote beautiful descriptions and I enjoyed her style of writing, but this story was so unbelievable that I will probably never venture back to this author. Last note, the narrator's accents tried my patience here and there, but not enough to ruin the experience, especially considering the myriad of accents she had to cover (French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian).
This book is so incredibly well written that words do not do it justice. Just awesome. I so admire a writer that has the gift to live and communicate an intricate, loving, perfect story. This is not to say there is not sadness, tragedy and injustice but then this also is life. In this book these emotions are balanced with honor, appreication, and love with it's many faces. I love this book. Brava Ann Patchett; Anna Fields so perfect; we have lost such a talent in Ms. Fields. She will not be forgotten. For those with vision deficiencies she gave the written word life.
This book did not rivet me or make me excited to listen and hear what would happen next, but because of all of the good reviews and awards by the experts I stuck with it. I decided it was worth my listening time to wait for the payoff at the end. I knew there would be no plot surprise, because the author told me at the beginning of the book what was going to happen, so I was left wondering what was going to be the "other payoff." This is the deepening understanding that comes through spending hours with a group of characters that finally in the end show you something new about yourself. Unfortunately for me that did not happen. However, I did like all of the characters and I think the author painted a clear picture of most of her leads. I cared about them and I felt the pathos of what happened to them. I still was thinking of the book a couple of days later. But can I say that I enjoyed my listening experience? Maybe, but I don’t think it is one of my favorites.
Going back to the rave reviews and literary awards. I can see that the union between her subject matter (opera) and her stylistic form was very well crafted. This form makes for a great discussion in a book review. However, is that a reason to highly recommend a book to readers? No.
A suggestion... If these characters did more than sit around a house for four months getting to know each other the plot would have been more interesting.
ELLE aka PlantCrone of the Great Pacific Northwest. I enjoy almost every genre-S/F, Action, Biographies and Histories & Romance
Reading reviews,I understand this novel isn't for everyone, however, it struck me in the heart and has remained with me since I finished it-I haven't wanted to begin another audio book because I'm still living with the people in the Vice-President's house.
I suppose it is a Stockholm Syndrome story at heart, but along with this easy to condemn psychological reaction is a group of sub plots, each detailing the intimate details of a group of people taken out of their usually busy lives and thrown together for months due to mis-planning of a group of Generals who don't realize they have grabbed for more than is possible.
There are several star individuals, but my favorites are the young soldiers Carmen and Cesar-both innocent young teens who have been exposed to a part of the world they never imagined. Carmen to true love and Cesar to the opera as sung by Roxanne Cos, a renown singer brought to this house and kept as a prisoner who decides to practice every day.
Gen, the translator is the catalyst that binds all 50 people, who speak many different languages. He is written in a delightful manner and really pulls things together.
The story moves slowly, which will irritate those who want action in their stories I think, but for me it was perfectly paced. Anna Fields did a superb job of accents and detailing different characters. She puts each of the characters personalities clearly into her reading.
I don't give 5 stars often but this novel rates that in my opinion. If a complex plot is to your liking, one with many characters and details, you will probably appreciate this story.
I sure enjoyed it.
The story takes a long time to get going. Even after it gets going, it takes a long time to complete. And then BAM! The ending is here and the book is over. I am not sure if I like that or not. But the story is worthwhile to listen to.
There are no great insights into the minds of these characters. There are a lot of characters. They are all pleasant. But they are not me. I am not a high ranking political official, nor am I the head of a company, terrorism is not something I dream about, and I am not a well-known opera star. But Patchett brings these people to real life, and presents them as if they were you and me. And that is why this book is good.
The narration is okay. I do not think Fields does accents well, and the demand in this story is great with Japanese, Russians, French, Danes, Germans, and Spanish characters involved. But it is acceptable. I knew which characters are speaking in each passage.
The ending is unsettling, although reality would have it no other way. But it did seem rushed. The last scene "explains" it all but those present do not make sense to me (or at least some of them). But I do not want to spoil it. Would be a good bookclub discussion.
I really liked Bel Canto. The story is good and unique and it grabbed me from the beginning. The writing is so wonderful....it is beautifully written yet easy to follow and listen to. I thought the pacing was just right and the reader did a great job. There were many characters and many different accents and the reader kept them from running together and sounding the same.
As much as I liked Bel Canto, it's not a perfect book. I thought the terrorists (especially the three generals) were too nice and permissive and this seemed a little unrealistic. Also, because there were so many characters, some of them weren't very well developed. In particular, I wanted to know more about Roxanne and her early years/background. Some of the characters were great, though. Gen (the translator) was so developed that I had a bit of a crush on him. I wasn't happy with the epilogue. There wasn't ground-work put anywhere in the story for what happens in the epilogue, so it seemed unbelievable to me and like kind of a cop-out. The epilogue also only addressed what happened to four of the characters in the story. There were a lot more characters than that and I wanted to know what happened to more of them.
Overall, though, Bel Canto is good and enjoyable and I will probably listen to it again at some point. I like Ann Patchett's beautiful writing so much that I will seek out more of her books.
I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.
I really enjoyed this book and felt that some of the reviews it received were not reflective of the strength of this wonderful author and the way in which the characters were carefully crafted and developed. The only weak spot, in my opinion, was the quality of the reader's voice that was somewhat monotone in nature and did not duplicate the tenderness and sensitivity of the text she was reading. Well worth reading.
I enjoyed this book very much. The story line was unique and the characters were all very believable. The reader was appropriate to the story...completely objective whether speaking from the point of view of the terrorists or the hostages. All in all a very good listen!
It was a good story with inevitable ending but the epilogue followed only one situation and 3 characters. It would have been better to hear about post adjustments of some of the other characters.
Although there were parts of this book that seemed to move too slowly, I was glad I persevered. In fact, I got up in the middle of the night to listen to the last hour and a half.
Although the ending of the book (epilogue)might seem to wrap up a little too neatly and conveniently, there actually was a tragedy in my own community that 'ended' much the same way. While I think I might have enjoyed something more complex in terms of a resolution to this story, the book was still a very good read, and I enjoyed it immensely.
If you become interested in opera after listening to this book, check out the print edition. In the back of the book, the author addresses how her own interested in opera developed, and she includes specific references.