A group of international businesspeople, government leaders, and ambassadors gather together in the house of the vice president of an unspecified South American country to celebrate the birthday of one Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese businessman. The vice president and the businesspeople of the South American country are trying to impress Mr. Hosokawa and convince him to set up factories and invest in their county. Mr. Hosokawa is only there because he will get to hear Roxanne Coss, world renowned opera soprano, sing. Mr. Hosokawa is accompanied not by his family but by his colleagues and translator, Gen. The evening of fine dining and world-class entertainment takes a terrifying turn when armed terrorists storm the building and take everyone hostage. The hostages demands are not quickly met, so the two groups of people must live together in the same house despite their power dynamics and varying social, political, national, and economic backgrounds.
All together, this book is fine. It’s fine. It wasn’t bad; it wasn’t phenomenal. It was fine. It is a very slowly paced book, so if you’re looking for a face-paced thriller of police and hostages and terrorists, this is not it. Very little happens by way of action. Largely, this novel is concerned with how these groups of people come together. Some very interesting relationships (some romantic and some not) form between members of each group, but I ultimately did find that cared about any of the characters except for Gen, the translator.
What I did really love about the book was how Patchett described all of the music throughout the book and how people responded and related to the music. Those parts were the most beautifully written parts of the entire book. Patchett really did make me want to listen to opera. What I really hated was the ending. If you’ve read the book, I’m not referring to the culmination of events in the house. I thought that that was a bold choice on Pratchett’s part that worked well to highlight the ultimate power dynamics between the two groups. No what I’m referring to is the couples walking together well after the fact. I hated that. It just felt so jarring and out of place.