The set up for Ann Patchett's Orange Prize winner, Bel Canto, is attention-grabbing -- an international group of businessmen and diplomats, one female opera singer, and a polyglot translator are held captive by a gang of revolutionaries in an unnamed banana republic for several months.
But despite the premise, the story has no zing. It plods along, focusing on the personal relationships among the people involved, particularly the relationships between some of the captives and captors. The story is written well enough, but the issues it raises about the nature of talent, love, and communication are pretty banal. Not that it had to be an adventure or a thriller -- but it was surprisingly ho-hum given the potential.
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