Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review: Bel Canto

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.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


  1. I've read such wonderful reviews of this book - sorry it didn't work for you.

  2. Yes, I think I am in the minority, for sure. Although I was surprised by the large number of negative reviews on amazon. They were far outnumbered by the positive reviews, but it wasn't unanimous. It might be a love it/hate it book.

  3. This book tends to divide people right down the middle. I really liked it.

  4. I was all gung-ho for the first third of it, then the novelty wore off. So I'm with you (in the minority) on this one.

  5. Sorry you didn't enjoy the book! I'll still give it a read one of these days but it's not super high priority.

    About the Reading Lamp...just drop me an email at colleen AT bookphilia DOT com and I'll send you the instructions and questions. Yay!

  6. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who didn't like the book! :)


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