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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
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Bel Canto (2001)

by Ann Patchett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,922339286 (3.94)1 / 730
  1. 80
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    wisewoman: In both books, music is a character in its own right, set against a backdrop of human violence and tragedy.
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    the_awesome_opossum: Both novels are about human connections formed in the face of unusual crises. Very competent and well-written, both books had much the same vibe about them
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English (331)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Korean (1)  All languages (339)
Showing 1-5 of 331 (next | show all)
After hearing so much about this book, I think my expectations may have been a little high. The president of this unnamed South American country wants to lure a Japanese business to his country to help a failing economy. He devises a plan to throw a birthday party for the president of a Japanese company. Knowing that this man is a lover of opera he secures the talents of one of the world's best singers. Rebels get wind of the party and plan to kidnap the president of the country but he decided to stay home and watch soap operas rather than attend this very important event. With their plan foiled they decide to hold all the people at the party as hostages until their demands are met. Eventually the release the women and staff. The opera singer, however is not released. She is treated like a queen and many of the men fall in love with her. Over the many weeks of captivity relationships form and the lines between captive and captors is frequently blurred. ( )
  knitwit2 | Apr 23, 2016 |
I think about this book often. It is about a hostage situation in Peru. A miltant group takes a group of dignitaries dining at the Peruvian president's domicile hostage. The story focuses on the individuals who were taken hostage, and the hostage takers. One of the hostages is a reknowned soprano and even in the difficulties of being a hostage she manages to negotiate time to practice and her music transforms the situation. The story also focuses on the relationships that grown between the hostages and their captors, and gives us a range of reactions. I think of this aspect particularly because it makes me wonder why people choose violence to solve problems, and how proximity and living together can provide other options ( )
  Lylee | Apr 3, 2016 |
So this was really, really good. Highly recommended and makes me want to read more Ann Patchett. Also, wherever I went, people seemed to comment on the book, mostly to tell me how much they loved it, but sometimes just to ask what I was reading (which I think means it must have an intriguing cover).

I loved the characters and the uniqueness of the plot -- a long-term hostage situation with undercurrents of Stockholm Syndrome. I really felt like the world she created was easy for me to immerse myself in, and it was a very pleasant world; I enjoyed the time I spent there.

The ending was abrupt, and while I fully understand the reasons for it being that way, it was a little unpleasant to be so suddenly and forcefully jolted out of the pleasant little world I'd been enjoying. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
I did not know what to expect but very quickly liked the book. I will say that the Epilogue for me is so false to the story. I could not see it happening. ( )
  Jennie.Cole | Feb 24, 2016 |
Mr. Hosokawa is in a South American country, where a birthday party is given in his honor. He really shouldn't be here under false pretenses, but the host country offered to bring in soprano Roxanne Coss and Mr. Hosokawa, an opera aficionado, finds he cannot refuse. Everything changes when terrorists, hoping to take the president hostage and free political prisoners, break into the home of the vice president and - finding the president has stayed at home to watch his soap opera - take all the guests hostage instead.

The best thing I can say about this book is that the writing is lovely. It's center stage, really, with long descriptions and lovingly rendered phrases. The plot takes a back seat and what would have been a tense situation in a thriller is almost nonexistent. Hostages and soldiers blur as you get to know different characters and their interactions, both internal and external lives in a way that never could have happened "outside." I'm sure there was a larger point the author was trying to make, but while there were isolated moments I enjoyed, by and large she lost me and I was rather bored. ( )
  bell7 | Feb 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 331 (next | show all)
''Bel Canto'' often shows Patchett doing what she does best -- offering fine insights into the various ways in which human connections can be forged, whatever pressures the world may place upon them.
 
Although this novel is entirely housebound, at the vice presidential mansion, Ms. Patchett works wonders to avoid any sense of claustrophobia and keeps the place fresh at every turn.
 

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patchett, Annprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bonis, OristelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Euthymiou, MaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fields, AnnaReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Figueira, Maria do CarmoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hrubý, JiříTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaluđerović, MajaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lauer, KarenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Løken, Silje BeiteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leistra, AukeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mastrangello, StellaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nielsen, Kirsten A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Preminger, SharonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pugliese, LucianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schapel, EvelinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sporrong, DorotheeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stabej, JožeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wanatphong, Čhittrāphō̜nTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wolnicka, AleksandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Xie, YaolingTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Yamamoto, YayoiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Fonti e colline chiesi agli Dei;
m 'udiro alfine,
pago io vovro,
ne mai quel fonte co 'desir miei,
ne mai quel monte trapassero


"I asked the Gods for hills and springs;
They listened to me at last.
I shall live contented.
And I shall never desire to go beyond that spring,
nor shall I desire to cross that mountain."

-- Sei Ariette I: Malinconia, ninfa gentil,
Vincenzo Bellini
Sprecher: Ihr Fremdlinge! was sucht oder fordert ihn von uns?
Tamino: Freundschaft und Liebe.
Sprecher: Bist du bereit, es mit deinem Leben zu erkämpfen?
Tamino: Ja.


Speaker: Stranger, what do you seek or ask from us?
Tamino: Friendship and love.
Speaker: And are you prepared even if it costs you your life?
Tamino: I am.

-- The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Dedication
For Karl VanDevender
First words
When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary
Translator, a star
In hostage situation
Love and friendships thrive
(julienne_preacher)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060838728, Paperback)

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:

Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.
Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give, even in a novel so imbued with the rich imaginative potential of magic realism. But in a fractious world, Bel Canto remains a gentle reminder of the transcendence of beauty and love. --Victoria Jenkins

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:21 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. 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 breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.… (more)

» see all 9 descriptions

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