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I agree with the reviewer who likened this novel to Marmite. I started it three times and made it a third way through when I gave up. For me it just wasn't going anywhere and nothing much was happening. Patchett is an engaging writer when there is a good story to be told. I loved The Dutch House and Patron Saint of Liars, both five stars for me, but this one disappoints. She is so good with titles, isn't she? Bel Canto and Patron Saint of Liars...very original and captivating.
Not in the same league as the author's other books such as Commonwealth, Run, & The Magician's Assistant. It just didn't draw me in and I was bored by the characters and setting (all in one house). I abandoned it once, but felt obliged by all the accolades to finish reading it. I was relieved when my obligations were over!
I'm not sure, honestly I'm not. I was recommended this book by a friend - a female friend, it should be pointed out - who said that it was one of the best books she'd ever read and that I would love it. I enjoyed it, but love? No, sadly not. I wonder though - is this an example of the male/female divide in fiction? The writing in this book, the way that the author would suspend the action to tell you the intricate backstory of the person involved, and then the backstory of another person obliquely involved, before perhaps - only perhaps - returning to the action; well, is it a writing style that is more enjoyed by women than by men?
I lay myself open to claims of sexism here, but I can't think of another book by a male writer that was so tentative and willing to let the plot take such a back seat. That's not to say that sometimes the tangents explored were not worth exploring, but just that, trimmed of the digressions, the story would not run to more than about 40 pages.
There were some great scenes; the part where the French hostage took on the role of chef and demanded access to the knives was well done; but otherwise the characters and their empty or unconvincing. That opera should have such a great effect on the hostage takers - well, I'm not sure about that as much as anything else.
And one other little point: the country in which all of this takes place is never mentioned directly, only by the slightly clumsy reference to 'the host nation' or 'the host country'. Would it be so ridiculous to come out and say it? I noticed that the James Bond movies lately have been almost as bad; in Casino Royale the bomber seeks refuge in a made-up African country's consulate, though in Quantum of Solace there seems to be no problem whatsoever in calling Bolivia Bolivia, and filling the cast with shady and corrupt politicians and generals. So why not here?
I barely finished this book, it was just too boring. I read the raving reviews about it and thought maybe the good part will come soon but it never did. It's just very slow motion boring book. I read State of Wonder by the same author and it was wonderful, exciting and different. So, I guess she is not very consistent in her style.
I know, I know...it's all about the characters...and their interactions...with the spin of an opera singer in their midst who's not a diva...we're supposed to be caught up in the day-to-day humdrum of a hostage situation.
So I guess it's a compliment to say that the author captures the boredom and tedium quite well.
Unfortunately, since she gives away the ending early, and the character interactions don't really build to anything, the book loses momentum by the halfway mark.
I dunno, maybe there will be a wild finish, I'm just not rushing to return to it, so I am leaving my review in case I drop dead before I finish.
2.0 out of 5 starsWhile the author had an unusual message which humanized and equalized both the captives and captives, the author seemed to have a very unrealistic assessment of human emotions. Basic premise which she holds is that men esteem and admire women. The storyline seemed to drag in places - I finished the book only because I had started it - it had been recommended to me, so I continued to read to learn why - I finished it because I had already read so much, and I hoped for a redeeming conclusion.
I finished this book only because I started it and because I respect the person who recommended it to me; I kept reading to find out why she thought it was such a good book, but alas, I found that it dragged in places, and to me the author had an unrealistic view of relationships. I believe reviewers probably liked this book because the captives and captors bonded and divisions which separate people by class and ethnicity are broken down. However, in my opinion, this was not a great book.
A friend chose this for our book club selection and although I really wanted to just abandon it, I did end up finishing it. I didn't find the story line to be super interesting or compelling and I didn't care much about the characters who were, at times, difficult to keep straight. There is a lot of detail left vague and the ending is somewhat predictable. It wasn't so bad that I refused to read it but I did not enjoy it and would not recommend it others.