This well-written novel about light in dark places came along at just the right
time in history. Just when fear of terrorism was high (at least in America),
Ann Patchett’s spellbinding story came along to bring some hope. Since it’s also both easy to read and incredibly well written, it's not a surprise that
it’s been a bestseller and has won so many awards.
In the novel, a third-world country (never specified) invites a selection of
the world’s elite to the Vice President’s house to celebrate Mr. Hosokawa’s
birthday. Since Mr. Hosokawa, who is the head of a major corporation in Japan,
loves opera, the entertainment for the evening is Roxanne Coss, his favorite
The party gets hijacked by terrorists seeking to kidnap the absent president.
It’s during the standoff following that the unexpected occurs—love
and beauty and understanding grow in the most peculiar ways. Gen, the only translator
for the many languages represented between the captors and captives, is right
in the thick of it all, as well as Roxanne Coss, whose gift for song transcends
all language barriers.
I had a hard time putting this book down. I felt like the author had taken
me hostage in her modern fairytale world until I reached the last page. Patchett
managed to come up with perfect blend of the realistic and the unusual that
created a largely believable world (though I'm still not sure about the epilogue). The vivid characters and plot will stick with me
for a long time.