Bel Canto

Paperback | August 2, 2005

byAnn Patchett

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“Blissfully Romantic….A strange, terrific, spellcasting story.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Bel Canto…should be on the list of every literate music lover. The story is riveting, the participants breathe and feel and are alive, and throughout this elegantly-told novel, music pours forth so splendidly that the reader hears it and is overwhelmed by its beauty.” —Lloyd Moss, WXQR

“Glorious.” —The New Yorker

Ann Pratchett’s award winning, New York Times bestselling Bel Canto balances themes of love and crisis as disparate characters learn that music is their only common language. As in Patchett’s other novels, including Truth & Beauty and The Magician’s Assistant, the author’s lyrical prose and lucid imagination make Bel Canto a captivating story of strength and frailty, love and imprisonment, and an inspiring tale of transcendent romance.

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From the Publisher

“Blissfully Romantic….A strange, terrific, spellcasting story.” — San Francisco Chronicle“Bel Canto…should be on the list of every literate music lover. The story is riveting, the participants breathe and feel and are alive, and throughout this elegantly-told novel, music pours forth so splendidly that the reader hears it and is overwh...

From the Jacket

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening -- until a band of gunwielding terrorists takes t...

Ann Patchett is the author of five novels: the New York Times bestselling Run; The Patron Saint of Liars, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; Taft, which won the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; The Magician's Assistant; and Bel Canto, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Orange Prize, the BookSense Book of the Year, and ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.79 inPublished:August 2, 2005Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0060838728

ISBN - 13:9780060838720

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Customer Reviews of Bel Canto

Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from I am having a hard time getting through this book The writing is well done, however for me personally I think the story line is just dragging on. The characters are very interesting, I just find the book a little slow for me.
Date published: 2015-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Pleasing Depth To The Characters The mysteries and mysticism of the workings of the individual mind, the uniqueness of each person, the unknown and unknowable deeply personal thoughts and life observations of every human as the child of a wild and beautiful and insane and unpredictable world.There is such as delightful view of the thoughts and feelings of many of the characters, that you may experience the surprise you get when someone reveals to you in conversation a viewpoint you hadn't expected but are pleased to find.I have instantly become a fan of Patchett.
Date published: 2013-11-05
Rated 2 out of 5 by from "expected much more" i read the reader reviews on this book last dec. it was on my wish list for christmas. i finally decided to read it saving the best for last. boy was i disappointed. the first 50 pages were ok, but eventually it dragged on. some parts were interesting but unfortunately i could not get into the book. i enjoyed some of the relationships built between hostages and terrorists. i am really disappointed and sad i could not enjoy this book. i did not like how the author mashed together character's pov. it went from one character's pov to another without any distinguish and it made the reading confusing and choppy. i suppose i prefer a clearly laid out specification of who's pov i am reading when the author is going to switch back and forth the story is good, but not for me. don't let my review sway you from reading the book. bel canto may just not have been for me. i will try another book from this author.
Date published: 2012-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bravo! I felt I was being held by the hand and led through a surreal and harmonious encounter under the most ridiculous circumstance starting from the very first chapter of "Bel Canto". Amazing power in narrative, Ann Patchett has this great charm in her story telling. The New Yorker described the novel as "tragicomic" and I cannot agree more. There is this constant but subtle ironic humour that tickles you, soft enough that it would not make you laugh, but it is for sure there to lift your smile. I love this book. It portrays a constant nagging of time and ending when all we want to do, and can only do, is to treasure and be hypnotized by the moment. I have never seen how wild imagination can be this close to life. Bravo!
Date published: 2011-04-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Not your parents stuffy opera The Peruvian government is hosting a party for Japanese business man Mr. Hosokawa. In honour of his birthday, and in an attempt to encourage him to open a factory in their country, they have hired opera singer Roxanne Coss to perform at the party. Unknown to them, terrorists plan to invade the party and take the President hostage. These plans are thwarted when they find that the President is not in attendence and in his place they take all the party attendees as hostages. I listened to this as an audiobook that I downloaded from my library. It was read by Anna Fields and produced by Blackstone Audio. When I first listened to an excerpt I was a bit put off by the thick, almost too thick accent, of the reader and I remember rolling my eyes and thinking "oh no, not another overly fake accent". I decided to download anyway and give it a try. I'm glad I did as I later found that the guests at the party were from many countries and they spoke a number of languages which the reader aptly portrayed. While Mr. Hosokawa and Roxanne Coss and their budding romance were the main focus of the story, it was to Gen, Mr. Hosokawa's translator, that the greatest role fell. Without him, everything would have fallen apart due to mis-understandings and mis-communications. It seemed to me that he was the 'sounding board' between the terrorists, the hostages, and the outside world. Most of the time he provided simultaneous translations, but at other times, he would wait before carrying messages between parties. Time for reflection or just for Gen to hold onto some control? The character of Messner, the Red Cross representative, played the important roll of keeping the story grounded. He reminded us of the practicalities of life, food and medicine, and the realities of the situation, that this hostage taking could not go on forever. I've never been taken hostage and I can't imagine what it would be like. Is this story a case of Stockholm Syndrome where the hostages start to identify with their abductors. In my opinion, the hostages grow to know their abductors as people. People with families, goals, yearnings (learning to read, to sing, to play chess) just like themselves have lives outside of the vice-president's mansion. Ann Patchett has written a very compelling book. I didn't want to stop my recording when my car trips ended. I wanted to keep listening to see what happened next. Without giving away anything, I want to say that I was surprised by the adruptness of the ending, though it was appropriate. I wanted the story to continue, to see the progress of the reading lessons, to have the new chess player win....
Date published: 2010-06-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just OK did enjoy this book, however felt that certain things were left up in the air. Characters developed, that you never hear about again. Also the epilogue seemed unnecessary to me. It is very successful at creating a "cozy" atmosphere though. I enjoyed it, but can not say I LOVEd the book.
Date published: 2009-11-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Somewhere A Clock is Ticking... A race against time, for life, desires and dreams. A clock is ticking for a group of cultured and influential people - people who would otherwise have nothing in common except, perhaps, money. In the midst of chaos, Ann Patchett beautifully illustrates our ability to show compassion, find meaning and beyond everything, love. It knows no boundaries, language and culture alike. She gives a voice to our silent hopes and dreams and exquisitely displays a reason for us to believe in the power life's simplest pleasures.
Date published: 2008-12-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from You needn't love opera to appreciate this book... I wasn't sure I was going to like Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto when I started reading it. I mean - it didn't seem like a book that would either grab my interest or hold it. But a funny thing happened to me about 75 pages in...I started to care about these characters. Bel Canto is actually based loosely on something that happened in Lima, Peru. On December 17, 1996, the terrorist organization Tupac Amaru took over the Japanese embassy there. From this nugget of truth, Patchett unspools the story. It's Mr. Hosokawa's birthday and the government of an unnamed South American country are hoping he will open an electronics plant there. They have hired Roxane Coss to sing and the only reason Mr. Hosokawa has agreed to attend the party is because she will be there; he is an opera fan and she is the best soprano in the world. The party is being held at the home of the country's Vice-President; the President had to attend to 'matters in Israel'. In the middle of the festivities, the house is taken over by a group of terrorists. What happens when a group of wildly different people are forced to share close quarters? The book forces the characters- a wonderful, eccentric group- to be both more and less than they are. A priest, for example, finally has the opportunity to hear confession; Mr. Hosokawa's translator, a central character named Gen Wantanabe, gets to converse in Spanish, German, French, English, and Russian and because of it- is privy to people's most private thoughts and Roxane Coss uses the power of her voice to tame the savage beast- so to speak. The terrorists themselves are also central to the story and we learn much about them...and I dare say, we come to care for them every bit as much as we care for the privileged party-goers. There is a message to be had in this book and Patchett's fine prose illustrates that without hitting the reader over the head. This was a book club selection and, truthfully, not everyone loved this book. For me, though, this is a book about love- how it shapes us and changes us, how beauty transforms and transports and how you just might take a risk if you thought it might be your last opportunity to do so.
Date published: 2008-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Compelling - Highly Recommend This book grabbed me from the beginning. There is such a style to her writing that wouldn't let me put the book down. When you hear it is about a hostage situation in a South American country you might think a high action book. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a quiet book but a powerful one and I think I'm going to be thinking back on it a lot. I really like her writing style. I just read Run by the same author and didn't like it but loved the writing. This one was the whole package.
Date published: 2008-03-22
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not So Hot This book was recommended to me by several people, who said it was a riveting journey through the minds of people caught in a hostage situation. As someone who has literally been in a hostage situation myself for almost 20 hours, I can tell you that the reactions of there people over a given period of time seemed to me to be somewhat justifyable. That being said, Patchett never seems to feel the need to explain the HOW of their situations. For example, HOW is it that the government of the unnamed country allows the situation to last so long? Think twice before picking this one up.
Date published: 2007-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What a fantastic Book I can't tell you how much I enjoyed the book. It was interesting from the perspective of the captors mirroring the captives and how "close quarters" or being with people changes your perspective of them. The writing was lyrical and at times, haunting. I think Ann Patchett captured the thoughts of the men and women well and captured some of the disillusionment with politics that some of us feel. I can't wait to read her other books!
Date published: 2006-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LITERARY TREASURE This book has such a lovely voice. It's suspenseful and plot-driven but so well-written that you never want it to end. The scenario and complex cast of characters are at the same time believable and other-worldly. Although my husband and I read different types of books, we both loved this one!
Date published: 2006-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A good read once i started, i was hooked, and couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2006-06-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautifully written! From the moment you begin to read, you feel as though you, too, are a guest at the vice president's mansion, and you, too, are as enthralled by the beauty of music as everyone within Roxanne Coss' sphere. Ann Patchett weaves a beautiful, melodic tale; it has a certain dreamy quality that reminds me of 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marques. What a treat this book is! When you have finished the book you will want to read it again and pass it on to your best friends!
Date published: 2006-06-15

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Editorial Reviews

"...a novel that showcases her profound understanding of the heart." (BookForum)