Set in Boston and covering several generations, this novel draws you in through suggestion and subtle prediction interspersed with finely crafted description of events. We follow an Irish Catholic politician who raises two adopted African American boys as the birth mother covertly watches them grow up. Depicts the contrast of race/class cultures in modern America with compassion and personal detail. A good read.
Broad historical strokes and modern conflict give this compelling story both depth and breadth. The Afghan culture is given to us through the experience of boys and their fathers, and in the context of conquest, strife, and human weakness. There is tenderness and frailty here as well as undeserved loyalty and grace. As the author says, there's no happy ending here, but perhaps a hope. Something that seems more and more rare in this starkly beautiful and fiercely proud country.
Set during an extended kidnapping crisis in an unknown Spanish speaking country, Bel Canto's focus on music and the need for language across borders shows how humans from widely different circumstances can be drawn to share love and beauty on many levels. The lifelong choral singer and language teacher in me found it a terrific ride. The inevitable conclusion and coda were deftly drawn, though difficult and sadly ironic. Ann Patchett's pairing of sublime and mundane give a rich humanity and freshness to the writing, and while plot devices are often surprising, they are rarely wasted. It is a great read/listen.
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