Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bel Canto and Fragile

I read Bel Canto for one of my book groups this month.  I don't think that I had read any books by Ann Patchett before. And I am not sure if I will read another one now or not, but I think that I will.

Bel Canto is a story about relationships during a hostage situation.  It takes place in an un-named country in South America where a famous opera singer, Roxanne Coss, is appearing and performing for Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese businessman, who is celebrating his birthday.  The party begins elegantly, until suddenly terrorists appear, planning to take the President of the country as a hostage.  Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on who you were, The President had not come to the party, so all the guests are taken as hostages.  The guests who are not deemed as necessary for the cause are released, leaving about 60 hostages, representing various countries.

As the months pass, relationships develop between the hostages and the terrorists, many of whom are young adults and seemingly fairly innocent. I found the development of the relationships interesting and the author did a good job developing the various character, although, honestly, I did not find myself especially caring about anyone of them in particular.

I had a difficult time getting into the book until about the middle of it.  Then I was terribly disappointed with the ending of the hostage situation, and even more disappointed with the Epilogue.

So would I recommend the book?  I'm not sure.  Half of my book group LOVED the book, the other half felt as I did.  I will admit that the book made for great discussion for the group!  Since I felt like Ms. Patchett did so well with character development, I probably will read another one of her books, which I have sitting on my To-Be-Read pile already!

Fragile by Lisa Unger came out last year, and I was happy to borrow it from my daughter to read.   The story is about Charlene, a girl gone missing in a small town, that brings up memories for the adults of another young girl, Sarah, who went missing years ago and was found dead.  The story does a good job combining the adults who were friends of Sarah's and their children who are friends of Charlene. Charlene is the girlfriend of Ricky, who is the son of Jones and Maggie Cooper.  Jones is the lead detective on the case, and Maggie is a psychotherapist who works with adolescents and families.  Both Jones and Maggie had been friends with Sarah and now, their son is involved with another girl's disappearance.

I loved how the two stories were intertwined in the book.  And I was intrigued to read Chapter One of Ms. Unger's next book, Darkness, My Old Friend that was featured at the end of Fragile.  It is about Jones Cooper, taking place a year after the story in Fragile!  Definitely on my To-Be-Read list!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Somewhat behind...

I have fallen behind in my book blogging....but have been reading more, so no complaints! Being in three book groups keeps me busy...I find that I have to carefully organize my reading in order to meet the deadlines.  And, happily, I have still found time for some of my "own" reading! So that being said...two of these three books were for book groups.

Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan is the story of four girls who meet in college and stay connected after college.  They are the usual mix that one meets in college...all different, from different families and homes and mindsets.  The women face all of the usual challenges: to marry or not, to have a child or not, to work or not, etc.  This is the author's debut novel and I wasn't terribly impressed.  I had trouble caring about any of the characters, and found the stories of each fairly predictable.  Just not my kind of book, I guess.  It was chosen for one of my book groups and was a book that none of the group had read, so we went into it blindly.  Always a risk.

One of my other book groups chose Two Rivers by t. greenwood.  I had read it this a couple of years ago and really liked it. My blog for it was on January 26, 2009 if anyone cares to go back and read it. From the Barnes and Noble site: 
"T. Greenwood's new novel is a powerful, haunting tale of enduring love, destructive secrets, and opportunities that arrive in disguise . . ."
 An excellent book, great story, great writing!  I recommend it!

I just finished Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich.  I almost always like her books and this one was no exception.  I found it to be an excellent portrayal of a marriage unraveling, and how it affects all in the family. 

Irene discovered that her husband, Gil, was reading her private journal, so she started writing in it for him for him to read, in an effort to manipulate him into letting her go.  Irene wanted out of the marriage, so she set about it by writing things that would upset Gil.  Of course, Gil could not confront her about what she wrote or then she would know that he had been reading her journals.  Meanwhile, Irene began keeping another journal for herself.  Shadow Tag goes back and forth between her writings in the two journals.

Irene and Gil have three children, who, of course, are witness to all of the animosity, fighting and violence that went on in the marriage.  The author does an excellent job with the children's emotions and feelings.

I have to admit that I found the end of the book to be quite surprising, although the more I have thought about their relationship, perhaps I shouldn't have been so surprised.  I liked the way she ended the book after the surprise. (You will just have to read it to know what I am talking about!).  Good book!