Bel Canto

Bel Canto

A Novel

Book - 2008 | 1st Harper Perennial Modern Classics deluxe ed
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Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award * Winner of the Orange Prize * National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

"Bel Canto is its own universe. A marvel of a book." --Washington Post Book World

A beautifully designed Harper Perennial Deluxe Edition of Ann Patchett's spellbinding novel about love and opera, and the unifying ways people learn to communicate across cultural barriers in times of crisis.

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 gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

Patchett'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.

Publisher: New York ;, Toronto :, Harper Perennial,, [2008]
Edition: 1st Harper Perennial Modern Classics deluxe ed
Copyright Date: ©2001
ISBN: 9780061565311
Branch Call Number: F PAT
Characteristics: 318, 18 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

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Feb 22, 2021

A group of dignitaries are assembled at the home of the Vice President of a South American country to listen to a famous soprano in the honor of a Japanese businessman. The group is taken hostage an are held by guerillas who have unreasonable demands. As the weeks go by the hostages fall into a comfortable familiarity with their captors. Mr. Hosokawa falls in love with Roxane Coss, the soprano, and Gen, the translator, falls in love with Carmen, one of the young terrorists. When they are finally released, their lives will change dramatically.

They are finally released in a violent way that kills too many of the hostages and the young terrorists who we have come to care about. A violent end was inevitable, but I wish she hadn't had so many killed. Also, it makes no sense that Roxane and Gen would marry. There's no foreshadowing that would make that plausible.

Feb 18, 2021

This is a beautifully written book that is a reimagining of the 1996 Peruvian Maoist capture of a party in the capital at the Japanese ambassador's house. In the novel, the setting and guests are somewhat different but now the author can consider the dynamics between the set of cultivated upper crust and the generally untutored rural Maoist captors. At the center of the novel is a world famous opera singer and the Japanese guest of honor who's birthday is being celebrated along with his very able translator. Stage by stage the different characters (hostages and captors alike) find within themselves elements that they never knew. And although realizing that all things will come to an end, a livable, and in some cases, quite enjoyable environment is created. The language matches the singing which matches the mood of a gentle love story bookended by violent ends.

Dec 11, 2020

Highly entertaining story about the personal relationships that form during a hostage situation. Poignant, funny, enthralling, and absurd. I recommend to anyone in search of a well written piece of modern fiction.

Barbarajean Apr 21, 2020

This novel was spellbinding: a literary masterpiece, a suspense-filled thriller, and a tender romance. I highly recommend it.

ArapahoeTina Oct 26, 2019

An absolutely gorgeous novel. The language alone makes this worth the read, but the intricate plot involving multiple cultures, music and relationships, all mixing in the forced setting of a hostage situation, is fascinating.

Oct 06, 2019

I checked this out for a writing group I'm in. Never finished it. I thought it was boring.

janicedlb Sep 09, 2019

Incredibly, a novel grounded in languages and opera, where one of the heroes is the translator. With the slow burn of the story line, Patchett reinforces how much our life expectancy is absolutely grounded in where and when we were born.

Jul 21, 2019

I recommend this book. When you finish it, you may be thinking about it for days (in a thoughtful musing sort of way) and will be in good company.

Jan 12, 2019

A wonderful book and well-crafted novel. Brilliant how Patchett uses how small singular events to build momentum toward the mutual discovery of the humanity beneath the circumstance. Highly recommended.

Nov 21, 2018

I really enjoyed reading this book many years ago. I also enjoyed seeing the film recently at the Bytowne Cinema.

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BostonPL_JordanD Aug 29, 2015

BostonPL_JordanD thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Nov 26, 2013

Based on the Lima Crisis, this book is about a group of terrorists who hold high executives and people of high political standing hostage. It explores how the terrorists and hostages cope with living in a house together for several months. Many of the characters form unbreakable bonds of friendship, while some fall in love.


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Sep 08, 2011

All of the love and the longing a body can contain was spun into not more than two and a half minutes of song, and when she came to the highest notes it seemed that all they had been given in their lives and all they had lost came together and made a weight that was almost impossible to bear.


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