Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hearty Agreement

I very much agree with everyone’s comments thus far on Bel Canto. I definitely enjoyed the intriguing plot and the gradual revelation of each of the characters but I think I had the same reservations as others that it didn’t fully “work”.

For me, the biggest annoyance was the elevation of the singer to almost divine status. I agree with Valerie S that being woken in the morning at 7am by a warbling woman singing scales would NOT have made me fall in love with her! As far as I am aware Opera singing tends to be one of those things that people either love or hate and I could have done with at least someone hating it (and possibly her – she was far too goddess-like for me). I thought Beatrice would have been an ideal character for that.

I agree with Val R that the balance of haves/have-nots was good. However, I felt there was a definite lack of anger from the young terrorists about their oppression and that of the families they had left behind and were supposedly trying to get released from prison. I felt that in contrast to the hostages, for whom rethinking their previous lives was appropriate, being surrounded by such opulence should have occasioned more anger. In my experience, teenagers tend to have the most anger regarding social justice. I felt that all Patchett succeeded in doing was turning them into complacent middle-classers with a taste for opulence and high culture.

The ‘bubble’ format always works well as providing a hot-bed for emotions and characters. However I felt that a siege of four months was pushing the idyll too far. There is no way that the Vice President would have cleared up and ironed for them as the ‘host’ for that long. No man I know would have managed a week let alone four months! Regarding the international make up of the party, what about a few culture clashes, misunderstandings and surely, at least a half hearted attempt at escape? After all, the hostages were made up of ‘all Chiefs but no Indians’: that must have occasioned at least one row!

I did enjoy the ending of the siege but agreed about the epilogue – terribly twee. Although, like Emily, I can’t think of a better way for it to end. If it was following an Opera plot then surely Roxanne Coss would have committed suicide in a dramatic fashion after the loss of her lover. Hey, not a bad idea!