I have read all of Ann Patchett's books except What Next. This latest addition to her body of writing does not disappoint. It's a story of love and family, and also about politics, if you believe the information at the back of the book. She has an amazing gift for developing characters and also for telling a story that compels the reader to finish the book, all too soon.
After the lyrical engaging prose and intriguing character development of Bel Canto, I was really looking forward to another Patchett read. However, I found this to be somewhat of a dissapointment, atleast in terms of my expectations. Though I have PLENTY to say about Bel Canto's stand-out characteristics, the only thing about this book stood out as extraordinary was the characterization of Sullivan, who I found to be a strong and unique portrait of a man whose future is 'sullied' by an unexamined painful past he can neither confront nor truly forget. The rest of the book was full of half-hearted characterizations, relationships and ties that were intriguing yet not complete in their examinations, and a narrative that relied ENTIRELY too heavily on a running allegorical theme of racial and family politics that was over-done and under-effective. Patchett does have an easy writing style that makes her work enjoyable to read, but that style combined with the project she made of her racially significant allusions and allegories made a lot of the moments meant to be highly intense emotionally come across as hoaky and overdone.
I remain a Patchett fan, but this one will not be a "keeper" on my shelf.
like all of patchett's lovely books... interesting story line... wonderful character development... great dialogue... beautiful poetic writing... this is a one or two sitting reading (if you can put it down)... now we must wait for her next one... sigh...
We read this book for our Book Club Discussion Group. Almost everyone enjoyed it, but all of us felt it needed some expansion on parts of the story line and character development. We felt there were too many partially answered ?s. I recommend it, but would like to see the author take it more in-depth.
After all the praise for Bel Canto I was excited to read this, my first book by Ann Patchett, and I was sadly disappointed. It started out great, a story about a racially mixed Irish-Catholic Bostonian family brought together by an accident one snowy night, the Doyle family. There is Bernadette with her virgin Mary statue -the spitting image of her with red hair, pale skin, and blue eys- passed down from mother to daughter for generations; Doyle, former Mayor of Boston; Sullivan, first born son, guilt-ridden over the death of his girlfriend; Uncle Father Sullivan; two adopted black sons, Tip, smart, lover of Ichthyology, and Teddy, sweet, devout Catholic; and Tennessee -like the state- and Kenya -like the country- Moser. I was captured by the end of the first chapter, devoured every word, sentence, but then my interest dwindled and I began to skim through to the end, much like the story skimmed through each and every character, failing to give any depth to any one of them. This could have been a great novel had the author further explored the issues of race, adoption, religion, etc. While plenty of individual thoughts were shared, the Doyle family seemed disconnected. Their relationships were poorly developed, unbelievable. The entire novel spans one night and day, not enough time to convince me of their bond. I do hope Bel Canto is better than this!