I truthfully had no idea what to expect when picking up Bel Canto. The title was a bit intimidating and I was afraid it was going to be some fluffy classic piece of work. However, Bel Canto is nothing like I expected.
The book was first published in 2005, so it is still a relatively modern piece of work. The title comes from the opera which is a central theme in this novel. You could probably summarize the entire book as opera is life. Except that I am not a big fan of opera and I did enjoy this book.
Bel Canto is a character novel. It is the characters more than the action that moves along the plot. The male characters are portrayed in such detail and with such depth that I could not help but fall in love with the book. The female characters, however, are cartoon characters only described by how they impact the males around them. Most of the wives are just random people who happen to raise their children. The main female character, the opera soprano, is just an idol for male affection. Everyone loves her yet she never becomes real. This is emphasized by how the story ended. The only female characters that are ever seen as people are the two female terrorists. Yet, they both start and end the book being categorized as boys, which seems to be the only way that this depth is acceptable.
The story is a very romantic idealization, that actually makes sense from a psychological standpoint. When you spend a lot of time with a person you start to see them as actual people. They no longer are just filtered by your stereotypes. There is an entire syndrome characterizing individuals who become devoted to those who are holding them hostage. This novel is an entire fictionalized account of Stockholm syndrome in beautiful prose.
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