From the bestselling author of "The Magician's Assistant" comes a marvelous novel of love, opera, and terrorism set in South America. Two couples, complete opposites, fall in love; sexual identities become confused; and a horrific imprisonment is transformed into an unexpected heaven on earth.
"Readers curious about the emotional flow between hostages and their takers should cotton to this novel based on the 1996 Tupac Amaru takeover of the Japanese ambassadorial residence in Lima, Peru. It traces the hostages' adjusting attitudes during the torpor of a months-long siege. Relief from their tedium takes the form of luscious world-class soprano Roxane Coss, who had been entertaining an international assortment of diplomats and businesspersons when the terrorists took the Peruvian vice president's house. Everybody loves her, eventually--a Russian diplomat, the Japanese tycoon who paid for her performance, one of the teenage hostage-takers, and so on. The medium for all professions of admiration and love is polylingual Gen Watanabe. As Watanabe flits from conversation to conversation, Patchett develops the characters' thoughts. Watanabe, for example, takes a shine to a child-soldier terrorist, Carmen, who comes to share the fate of an operatic earlier bearer of her name. Unhurriedly, even languorously, Patchett brings readers into the minds of the characters. --Gilbert Taylor"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"As her readers now eagerly anticipate, Patchett (The Magician's Assistant) can be counted on to deliver novels rich in imaginative bravado and psychological nuance. This fluid and assured narrative, inspired by a real incident, demonstrates her growing maturity and mastery of form as she artfully integrates a musical theme within a dramatic story. Celebrated American soprano Roxane Coss has just finished a recital in the home of the vice-president of a poor South American country when terrorists burst in, intent on taking the country's president hostage. The president, however, has not attended the concert, which is a birthday tribute in honor of a Japanese business tycoon and opera aficionado. Determined to fulfill their demands, the rough, desperate guerrillas settle in for a long siege. The hostages, winnowed of all women except Roxane, whose voice beguiles her captors, are from many countries; their only common language is a love of opera. As the days drag on, their initial anguish and fear give way to a kind of complex domesticity, as intricately involved as the melodies Roxane sings during their captivity. While at first Patchett's tone seems oddly flippant and detached, it soon becomes apparent that this light note is an introduction to her main theme, which is each character's cathartic experience. The drawn-out hostage situation comes to seem normal, even halcyon, until the inevitable rescue attempt occurs, with astonishing consequences. Patchett proves equal to her themes; the characters' relationships mirror the passion and pain of grand opera, and readers are swept up in a crescendo of emotional fervor. 8-city author tour. (June) Forecast: Opera can be a tough sell, and though the musical theme is deftly integrated, this book may have a harder time catching readers' interest than did Patchett's first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. Positive critical response should attract attention, however. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved