I just finished reading bel canto by Ann Patchett. It’s beautifully written and I found it really hard to put down.
The story is about a group of people who get kidnapped by terrorists. The terrorists and the government end up in a stand-off that lasts for 4 1/2 months. The story is about how the kidnappees and terrorists interact, create relationships and change during those 4 1/2 months.
One of the recurring themes of the book has to do with living in the present. Life immediately changes for everyone, no one has to go to work, families are no longer present, it is almost like there is no longer an outside world and they are living in a bubble. There is no past or plans for the future, just what is happening at that moment.
Several of the characters actually really start to enjoy their captivity. They get to spend more time delighting in their passions, they create deeper relationships with some of the others, they discover interests that they never knew they had. Still others learn to appreciate that which they had taken for granted in the past. At one point, all of the kidnappees had been kept indoors for months and when they were allowed to go out into the yard, everyone was deliriously overwhelmed by the abundance of nature. The sights, smells and touch, they couldn’t get enough.
I found that the whole book was a lesson about remembering the important things in life. As the author delved into some of the character’s lives she talked about how busy they were with work. So busy that they didn’t have time to appreciate their families or opportunities to really enjoy their passions. Everyone was busy but not really living. It made me think about what I’ve been trying to do for the last 9 months and what I want in terms of future employment. I don’t think it provided answers, just more things to think about.