Pandi's 'Pinions

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett caught me off guard. For some reason, the first time I heard about it, I sort of dismissed it as nothing more than the latest in a string of factory-produced chick-lit that seemed to pervade the market. A glimpse of the synopsis left only the words "world-famous soprano" and "relationships" and "love" in my mind and so back to the shelf it went. Several years later, with a week of each other, my cousin Osman (whose tastes in books I hold in great regard) and my friend Rage (ditto), berated me for not having given this book a chance. A while back, the book crossed my path again and demanded my attention. I just finished it and I have to agree: it was exceptional. It was complex yet simplistic; foreign yet accessible; fantastic yet believable. The whole book, save the last five pages which I felt were tacked on and unnecessary and untrue to the plot, was gripping and intriguing. A peek into each character's minds, motives, methods. A slice of elegance and terror. A dip into unpredictable and commonplace human behavior. The author deftly handles the character development, the plot, and the pace in a way that leaves you never bored. Grade: A.

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