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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
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Bel Canto (original 2001; edition 2008)

by Ann Patchett, Anna Fields (Narrator)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,281355280 (3.95)1 / 763
Member:moekane
Title:Bel Canto
Authors:Ann Patchett
Other authors:Anna Fields (Narrator)
Info:New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008, audiobook, 312 MB, format MP3, c. 2001.
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:audiobook, unabridged, fiction, novel, So. Am hostages

Work details

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (2001)

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English (347)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Korean (1)  All (355)
Showing 1-5 of 347 (next | show all)
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 |
Loosely based on the true-life December 1996 hostage drama in Peru, “Bel Canto” tells the story of a group of people held hostage for one hundred twenty six days. The group of diplomats, and military and government officials were attending a party at the ambassador’s residence. A revered opera singer, Roxane Coss, sings for the group before the terrorists burst into the home and take everyone hostage.

At the beginning of the crisis, the terrorists are confrontational and defiant; the guests are frightened and cowed. But as the story of their months-long captivity unfolds, terror gives way to acts of kindness, to deeper understandings, to seeing the person inside the uniform and discovering the humanity that unites everyone. Thrown together by circumstance, the terrorists and their hostages form a sort of a community in which people in both groups change over the course of the captivity, bringing love and beauty into a world wracked with fear.

Readers will have much time to enjoy the lyrical writing while the plot slowly unwinds but may find the ending rushed and straining at credibility. ( )
  jfe16 | Jan 29, 2017 |
Differing opinions about a book brings out a lively discussion, regardless of the subject matter. But this month’s read gave us fascinating material … music, culture and political struggle with a dash of humour, romance and operatic drama.

When I say differing opinions, our group’s scores for Bel Canto ranged from 2 to 10. The low scores found the story slow and filled with mundane details regarding the hostages’ confined stay. There were also comments regarding the fantastical nature of the story, with little connection to the Lima Crisis of 1996, which it was based on.

Our high scores found the story enthralling with characters that drew you in and moved you emotionally. They found empathy for all of them, hostages and insurgents alike. It was mentioned that music itself became a character and that the whole story read much like an opera (Intentional? We think so), setting a scene, building the characters and rising to a climax.
The story could easily be represented on a stage, so this idea is not unrealistic and it found sound credit with us.
We had a great discussion on opera and how it resonates with people’s emotions. Combined with the cultural variety of the hostages and their evolving relationships, most of us found the whole concept a thoroughly entertaining and worthy read.
  jody12 | Jan 29, 2017 |
This beautifully-written book deserves the many accolades it has received. The setting is the home of the vice president of an impoverished South American country. The occasion is a lavish dinner party for a powerful Japanese businessman with entertainment provided by renown opera singer, Roxanne Coss. Those attending are prestigious men and their wives from different countries all speaking different languages. The party comes to an abrupt end when armed terrorists take everyone hostage. The only means of communication among these people is the Japanese translator, Gen. All of the women are released except for Roxanne Coss. Their captivity continues since negotiations are at a standstill, and life on the "outside" resumes. The relationship among the captors and the captives slowly is transformed into a routine that involves understanding and appreciation of each other, thanks in great part to Gen's ability to enable communication and to the feelings engendered by listening to Roxanne's amazing singing voice. This is a remarkable testament to the resilience and generosity of the human spirit. ( )
  pdebolt | Jan 18, 2017 |
That was quite beautiful. ( )
  Virginia-A | Dec 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 347 (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
Blurbers
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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

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