bel canto

Wow Kate, such insightful comments…I wish we’d been at SBC at the same time! I, too am struck by how The Music is the common language connecting all the characters in Bel Canto and the catalyst for so many of the important pivotal moments throughout. Of course, even with The Music, everything would fall apart without Gen the master linguist who makes the whole story possible, really. It also seems that Roxanne’s entire character structure is built from The Music, and her Voice is all that matters and all she is. What she has been created for is making this amazing music and causing people to love her…and each other. But one can’t help but wonder who would love her if she lost her voice. Love is certainly the primary theme in this beautiful book, and Ann Patchett does such an extraordinary job squeezing so many fascinating characters into one book, and then making them all love each other by the end. And she makes it happen in a believable way, not any small feat. From a priest to an opera singer to a vice president to a gang of terrorists, everybody shows their true hearts. In this day and age we are not quite accustomed to thinking of terrorists as real people, but in this book the terrorists are more than just real people; some of them even become protagonists. What happens in this extraordinary narrative is more than just some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, it’s the kind of love that feels like a miracle every time, whether it’s in a palace or a refugee camp. This book is a true testament to the power of the human spirit.

Ruth Huffman, SBC class of 2002

2 Responses to “bel canto”

  1. Carrie Brown says:

    Hi Ruth!

    Welcome to the brave new world of blogging! Thank you for joining us. You are still much missed on campus, and it’s lovely to be back in touch with you in this way.

    The difference between a “post” and a”comment” on a post is — to my way of thinking — that a post isn’t necessarily a response to something someone else has already written on the blog.

    I know that the other students and alums would love to see a photo of you — if you can figure out how to upload a photo of yourself — and to hear a little about your life these days. You can return to your post at any time and edit it or add to it. If you want to talk through how to upload an image (aka insert a picture into the text), let’s talk on the phone; it’s probably more efficient for us to communicate in that tried and true old fashioned way than for me to try and explain it here…

    • ruthhuffman says:

      Kate: I agree with your feeling that Patchett makes her narrative believable, which shows her story-weaving and description-crafting mastery. While it is somewhat difficult to imagine all these characters becoming so intensely infatuated with Coss because of her voice, the only reason I found it difficult to truly believe at first was because I personally don’t love opera music. At all. But I have indeed heard singers and musicians, mostly oldtime mountain and backwoods bluegrass style ones that I fell in (temporary) love with because of their music. Hell, I fell in love with my husband first because of his banjo playing! Talk about weird and unbelievable… anyhow, Patchett starts making us believe her from the very beginning when she portrays how the audience members were so taken with Coss’s voice that they actually wanted to drink her voice out of her mouth. That is such an astonishing and engaging way of putting it I think.
      And Stephanie: I am absolutely in awe of your ability to formulate linear and original arguements and opinions in such an articulate, smart, and sensible way. Reading your post reminded me of how long it’s been since I was in school, for sure! It sounds like you’re moving onto spectacularly interesting things. Look forward to reading more from y’all this summer…
      Ruth Huffman ’02

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