Book Endings We’d Like to Change

Bel Canto
By Ann Patchett

Life, as we all know, can be full of disappointment . . . and frustration. As a voracious reader, nothing irritates me more than becoming completely invested in a novel, only to be slapped across the face by the novel’s conclusion. That happened to me a number of years ago after reading Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel Bel Canto.

Bel Canto takes place in the home of the Vice President of a small South American country. Guests made up of international dignitaries as well as a world-renowned soprano are in attendance for a birthday party, when events suddenly take a frightening turn as terrorists break into the home and hold the guests hostage.

Patchett does a wonderful job awakening all of your senses as she describes the people and surroundings of the novels setting. Her writing style is so fluid, that after reading only a few paragraphs, you know that this will be one of those books that you’ll have trouble putting down.

The book is remarkable, from the shifting plot to the intriguing characters. It grabs the reader immediately and doesn’t let go until the end at which point you feel as though you weren’t just let go, but were thrown from a cliff – during a really bad storm – and maybe you had left your climbing shoes in the car.

It’s one thing to suffer through a lousy novel that finishes up with an equally lousy ending – but when a book as good as Patchett’s debut novel, ends so badly – well, it’s just the worst kind of literary betrayal.

-Lisa Emig

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