The novel, Bel Canto, is one of my favourite books of all time. It offers suspense, well-developed characters, and universal themes of love and forgiveness.
But most of all, it demonstrates empathy at its finest. Ann Patchett shows that when people are brought together face to face and are able to see their common humanity, miracles can happen.
Music plays a huge role in the story; the power of music to make one not want to be anywhere else and to unite everyone who hears it.The story begins at a birthday party for Katsumi Hosakawa, founder and chairman of a major electronics company in Japan, at the home of the Vice President of a South American country. Hosakawa is in the country, purportedly, to explore the possibility of setting up a factory there. In reality, Hosakawa does not intend to build the factory, and would not normally celebrate his 53rd birthday in another continent, except that he was promised a performance by the lyric sorprano, Roxanne Coss. Hosakawa has been a huge fan of Coss for years and this occasion would be a chance to meet her. The birthday celebration is underway, Roxanne Coss has finished singing and everyone is mesmerized. Then, the lights go out. What happens next I won't give away. Let me just say that the story is unusual, emotional, and will pull you in. Terror and beauty walk hand in hand. Time stops and people communicate on a level not often seen in everyday life. Even people who have known each other for years learn surprising new things. We see that there is good and evil in everyone and love them anyways.