Winner of the Orange Prize, 2002
Patchett’s book is definitely one of my favorites of the Orange winners so far. Who knew that a hostage situation involving an opera singer could be so fascinating? The quality of her writing got me into the story immediately, and I will definitely be reading more of her work.
Set in an unnamed South American country, a political dinner takes a turn for the worse when kidnappers come in to take the President hostage. Only, he’s not there, so they take the entire party hostage instead. One of the most absorbing aspects of the novel is how beautiful art, in this case opera singing, can stir the souls of those around them. When Roxane Coss sings, everyone in the party, hostages and kidnappers alike, are put more at ease.
“The day no longer progressed in its normal, linear fashion, but instead every hour circled back to its beginning, every moment was lived over and over again. Time, in the manner in which all had understood it, was over.”
There is so much more that can be said about this book, but to do so would give away too many spoilers. It would definitely be a great choice for a book club. There would be much to discuss! After I finished the book, I did a little research and found out that it is actually based on a true story (sans the opera singer) of a political hostage situation in Peru. But don’t go looking for it until you’ve read the book, or it will definitely be spoiled for you.
Very highly recommended.
2001, 318 pp.