HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Loading...

Bel Canto (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Ann Patchett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,373359277 (3.95)1 / 768
Member:Bleets
Title:Bel Canto
Authors:Ann Patchett
Info:Fourth Estate Ltd (2002), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

Work details

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2001)

  1. 80
    The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: In both books, music is a character in its own right, set against a backdrop of human violence and tragedy.
  2. 70
    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (the_awesome_opossum)
    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
  3. 20
    One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni (SilentInAWay)
  4. 53
    Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (readerbabe1984)
  5. 00
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (Anonymous user)
  6. 22
    Room by Emma Donoghue (BookshelfMonstrosity)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (351)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Korean (1)  All (359)
Showing 1-5 of 351 (next | show all)
Wow. This book gripped me from the beginning and never disappointed. An American Diva has been brought to a small South American country to sing for the birthday celebration of a Japanese industrialist, in the hopes that he will gratefully situate a factory there. The event is invaded by terrorists and the guests held hostage for months. There was such a sympathy for her characters and and optimism about human nature here, as well as a deep belief in the power of music. The best book I've read in quite some time. ( )
  gbelik | Apr 23, 2017 |
I'll begin by making my apologies to Ann Patchett fans for my rating. This book appears on some of the "must read lists" so my expectations were high. Maybe this is a case of, "It's not you, it's me," with "you" referring to the novel.

This is the first book I have read by Patchett. The writing was good but I really didn't feel a connection with the story, even though it focused on an introspective type of character analysis. I wasn't a big fan of the whole opera theme, not especially because I don't care for opera myself, but as the story progressed it just seemed like a distraction. If Patchett was trying to make a commentary about political and social conditions in South America, she really didn't incorporate much information about the historical and cultural background of the country. Also, the epilogue kind of threw me for a loop.

I could understand some of the themes presented in the novel, such as hostages beginning to identify with their captors. At one point there was a statement made, "Gen knew that everything was getting better and not just for him. People were happier." However, none of the captors seemed to have particularly unhappy lives before they were taken hostage. So, hmmm .....

This book just didn't work for me, but I wouldn't discourage anyone else from reading it. Since I seem to be in the minority with my opinion, you might love it! ( )
  Lisa805 | Apr 6, 2017 |
I found this an interesting story of how relationships form among people who are placed in a highly unusual situation. The unifying and 'normalising' effect of music seems to be the key to the story, telling us that there seems to be an underlying powerful need for humans to connect with each other and to identify the beauty of the world around them, even in life-threatening situations. I did find the story to be lacking the degree of tension and stress which I would have thought would be present, but maybe I just wasn't reading between the lines enough to pick that up. ( )
  oldblack | Mar 1, 2017 |
When Novels Are Too Comforting

This book has a strong and consistent tendency that is both unusual and, for me, strange: the author has the desire to comfort everyone, both the reader and the characters. This isn't just because the narrative is a hostage situation. The desire permeates the implied author's choices and descriptions. It matters that the hostages are as comfortable as possible: one has a tiny pillow, another loosens her hair, a third rests on her husband's shoulder. They all get bathroom breaks. This interest in comforting, consoling, and assuaging extends to inanimate objects. One character worries about pipes in his house, even though he doesn't own it. The narrator (who is near-omniscient, but "focalized," as Genette says, on a number of characters) even tells us that the wonderful carpet is safely cushioned by a pad, so it won't be unduly worn by all the gunmen and hostages.
There's an equally consistent and heartfelt need to tell readers how mesmerizing, how sheerly beautiful, women can be. An opera singer hypnotizes one character after another. A servant's beauty makes a man forget his pain. Intimacy and quiet are important; people whisper to one another nearly inaudibly in Spanish, French, and Japanese. The opera singer's voice is heavenly, to everyone with ears, which means almost everyone worth describing.
At first -- around page 20 -- I thought that this authorial nursing would make it impossible for anyone in the novel to suffer or die, but then -- 10 or so pages later, and so very early in the book -- I realized that one of the author's principal purposes in writing is to provide a glow of reassurance over everything and everyone, to illuminate life with an aura of maternal love. What a strange purpose for a novelist. It isn't exactly sentiment, although it is often very sentimental: it's more a kind of unassuaged need to show that things and places as well as people can be nurturing and nourishing, good for you to contemplate.
This desire feels like it was once an anxiety, before the author began to write, and that she healed herself by writing. It's as if the calm and warmth of the prose need to be continuously renewed by narrative. If I read through the narrative, as it were, to the anxious state of mind that I imagine might have impelled it, then I'm interested; but I am not convinced by an author who wants to console me at every minute: it's like being in the company of an overly solicitous, determinedly optimistic nurse.

(This is not a complete review. I only made it to page 89. So much reassurance: by p. 81 there is a death, but we're told in many ways it was for love, and then we're told how that love was reciprocated, not only by one person, but by an entire crowd of people, who somehow understood what was happening even though they spoke a variety of languages; and we, the readers, are reassured that everyone appreciated and was inspired by the love they witnessed.)

All this made me wonder what the opposites of "Bel Canto" might be. "Bel Canto" consoles and cares about every doubt or anxiety a reader might have; what books disregard their readers' doubts? One of Patchett's opposites would be Beckett, who can sometimes want to tell us over and over that things are hopeless. Or writers like Houellebecq, Capote, or Ellis, who often want to remove consolation.

Those names come to mind because they are authors who set out, in a way, to do the opposite of what Patchett does. The norm would be narrative that sometimes consoles but typically doesn't, that sometimes shows how people care and are cared for, but generally doesn't. If, as a reader, you don't feel any special pleasure in being continuously reassured, or if you find, as I do, that continuous solicitous care raises questions about the person who needs to administer that care, then this book may seem less comforting than disturbing.
  JimElkins | Mar 1, 2017 |
Liked it better by the end, but was a bit painful to get through. Not raring to read others by Patchett any time soon. ( )
  kate_r_s | Feb 12, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 351 (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
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (3)

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 10 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
280 avail.
84 wanted
5 pay7 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.95)
0.5 7
1 56
1.5 9
2 178
2.5 55
3 584
3.5 191
4 1246
4.5 182
5 1052

Audible.com

2 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 113,891,571 books! | Top bar: Always visible