I read Bel Canto back around 2005 (I think - I couldn't find the page in my book journal) and I have to say that I really didn't like the book all that much. I thought the plotting was annoying with all the foreshadowing about after the hostage situation ended. I couldn't really get into any of the characters - probably because I was concentrating on the plot - so I was pretty blah about the whole thing. I couldn't see how this had been nominated for an NBCC award or the Orange Prize. I even off-loaded my copy thinking I was unlikely to read it again.
Enter BNBC. And I start moderating "Literature by Women", for which I let the group nominate and vote on the reading lists. Lo, and behold, Bel Canto is nominated for Spring/Summer 2010 and makes it through the voting. I had to read it again (*sigh*).
So I did. I tried to concentrate on the style of the book, the music references, the relationships formed between the characters. Bel Canto is better the second time around - at least for me. I was able to bypass some of the irritation I felt with the plot by concentrating on the writing. Until I got the Epilogue which is not only unneccessary but completely confusing; there's little in the way of explanation. It has a pretty last line, but so does Chapter Ten, and I would rather have had the book end without an Epilogue than keep the one it has.
So, an improvement (and I was moved to listen to opera all day when I finished - oh, Renee Fleming, how I love thee, which reminds me I need to come up with a copy of your duet album with Placido Domingo *droolz*).