Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This book…this book…just why?

If you are a regular follower of my blog, you probably read my mostly positive review of the movie released based on this book: Bel Canto. I really enjoyed the movie, so of course I was looking forward to reading the book it was based on. But let’s just say that, after reading it, my feelings were not as positive.

Release: May, 2001

Synopsis: In a South American country, famous opera singer Roxanne Coss goes to perform for wealthy Japanese businessman Hosokawa’s birthday party. However, the party is disrupted by terrorists who hope to kidnap the president, who just happened to stay home to watch his soup opera. The guests are taken hostage, and so starts an intense stand-off for months.


I didn’t like this book. It pains me to say this, as the story is really interesting and the characters were unique. I loved the movie, so the story wasn’t the problem for me. Instead, it was the writing style and the pacing that really disappointed me.

First off, the good things. The movie was surprisingly close to the book, at least in plot and characters. There were more minor characters who were expanded upon more in the book, which I liked, but most of the characters were minorly changed from book to movie. The ending is quite sad, and if you want to get more of my review of the plot itself, check out my movie review.

Anyway, now we arrive at my problems with the book, which were so bad I actually considered DNFing this book. But I stuck with it, with only minor skimming as a consequence.

My main issue was the writing style. I felt as if the story was being told to me in a detached, pointless manner. There were long tangents on things which had nothing to do with the plot. I don’t dislike these more in-depth info, if done in the right manner (to give more understanding to the psychology of the characters, for example), but a lot of the rants added nothing to the plot and bogged down the action.

The only other main issue I had was the pacing. The pacing even in the movie was slow, and that’s less than two hours long. But in a 350 page book, it felt unbearable. Nothing would happen for pages and pages and when it did, it wasn’t enough to make up for the boring scenes.

I know of a lot of people who love this book, but it wasn’t for me. I could see why some readers might like it, and if you like this book, don’t take offense to this review. This was the case of it not being my cup of tea. I’m actually surprised that this is one adaptation where I liked the movie better than the book. Who would have imagined that?

Have you read/heard of this book? What do you think about a slow-paced stories? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more madness and, as always,

Best wishes in your life full of adventure,

Madame Writer

9 thoughts on “Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

  1. I like the slow-paced novels I’ve read so far. Maybe it has something to do with my perchant for proses. Take The Remains of the Day for example, it is mainly made up of Mr Stevens’ memory, which makes it slow-moving.

    But it’s filled with psychological descriptions and the sentimental atmosphere I love!

    So I think how the author writes is more important~ For me, to make up for its pace, a great slow-paced novel should have impressive emotions, feelings, atmosphere and thoughts( and they shouldn’t be shallow and hollow) that allow the readers to immerse themselves in ~πŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Having finally finished Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I can firmly say I’ve got nothing against slow-paced stories! It was worth it in the end. πŸ˜€ However, pointless rants always turn me off, and that’s true even if they’re set in a fast-paced story.

    Liked by 1 person

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