Bel Canto

Bel Canto

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Comments (63)

AL_ANNAL Feb 02, 2018

Humane,funny, tragic and beautifully written. One of my all time favorite books!

Dec 20, 2017

Meh. I found it sort of tedious. I finished the book and liked the ending but it kind of went on and on and on and on...I think it will be a rare happening where the upcoming movie will be better than the book!

Dec 04, 2017

This beautiful book surprised me from beginning to end. All in all refreshing and the writing is fabulous.

Oct 25, 2017

This was my second book by the author. The first, Commonwealth, was difficult to get through. Thumbs down. But I gave her another chance when I picked up this one.

It ran smoother, and until the last few paragraphs of the last chapter (of the main book...not the epilogue) it was wonderful. I knew the end would be tragic, and it was, BUT the epilogue was out of left field. Heck, it was from a different planet! I had to go online to see if I was the only one confused. I'm not. The sudden marriage between two characters who had affairs with others during the hostage part makes no sense. None. Not even if I take the whole novel symbolically.

I kept thinking maybe Roxanne was pregnant with Hosokawa's baby, so Gen married her out of Japanese respect. Pregnancy wasn't even alluded to.

Nope. I am done with this author.

DBRL_IdaF Aug 10, 2017

Beautifully written. Interesting premise. In an unnamed South American country, a plot by rebels to kidnap the president goes as far awry as possible. The president is not in attendance at the party they crash with their guns and demands. What was meant to be a quick in-and-out kidnapping turns into a months-long hostage situation, with several young rebel soldiers guarding an international contingent of politicians and businessmen, plus one opera diva and a very overworked translator. As time drags on, alliances and bonds are forged, with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome settling down on everyone.

Despite the guns and military element, this is much more a character drama than an action novel. The characters learn a lot about themselves as they grow and change in response to their unusual situation.

Mar 26, 2017

Loved it! Bel Canto has as its premise a massive international hostage-taking, but with an huge heart that symbolizes all humanity in microcosm. Like a dream, the slow pace depicts the characters as “who they are” and gradually peels and reveals layer upon layer, begging the question: what’s real? Patchett brilliantly folds a terrifying situation in on itself, allowing individual inner growth and bonding amongst the unlikeliest of characters – an exultation of our shared humanity. Then she balances it with page-turning flares of viciousness and panic. Loved it.

Dec 28, 2016

Beautiful, moving and one of my favourite books.

Oct 15, 2016

Very well written and I agree that it felt like its own universe. The gradually growing empathy for the terrorists was the most intriguing part about this story. I did not find it romantic in the slightest, however. The women in the story were treated like objects (on a pedestal, to be worshipped for their beauty and talent) rather than persons, which makes for a strange concept of intimacy and relationships.

ehbooklover Sep 18, 2016

This book had been in my TBR list for a while now. I have always been intrigued by its concept and had heard wonderful things about it from coworkers and friends. They were right! I really enjoyed it. A unique and beautifully written story full of wonderful characters that kept me engaged and invested in the outcome until the very last page.

Aug 25, 2016

This was my first Patchett book; I was underwhelmed. Great story line, some memorable characters. But it seemed to me the point of the story was emerging awareness of everyday ecstasy when we stop/slow down. That has value, but to describe that clarity with too many words seems to miss the point. A hundred fewer pages would have made a better book.

Jul 25, 2016

This was a well written, engaging story. I would have liked to see a note by the author about the real events the fictional book was based upon.

Incredible masterpiece. Patchett is a one of our great author talents!

Jan 09, 2016

The story line and the characters are likable. Very intense plot with a hostage setting. The reader learns about many of the characters. Violence and language warning. This is a memorable story.

Sep 02, 2015

This novel is very moving and thought provoking. I strongly believe in the calming, soothing and healing power of music. Music transcends language barriers and brings people together. Music plays a pivotal role in this novel. I see this story as a parable of how people from different cultures and of different politics can co-exist peacefully when they get to know each other and give each other a chance. It is also about finding your niche in life. The hostages bonded with their captors, which sometimes happens in actual cases. Patchett has a creative style and her characters emotions and observations were interesting. There was some ethnic stereotyping in the book.

BostonPL_AnnaD Aug 29, 2015

(Book 8 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)

Title/Author: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: A fictional telling of a true story, a group of hostages takes over the Vice-President’s house in an unnamed country in order to have their demands met. The hostage situation lasts for several long months as captors and hostages from around the world get to know each other and even become friends and lovers.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Contemporary Fiction

Diversity: Yes.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: This was a beautifully written story I couldn’t put down. After all, it’s not every day one thinks of hostages and their captors spending months together and eventually getting along! My only issue is that the author did not even acknowledge, in an author’s note or anything, the actual hostage situation in Peru in 1996 that this was based on. Otherwise I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. Even rereading it a second time, it was just as good as it was the first time.

PoMoLibrary Jul 30, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Summer Reading Club traveler Leah: What a read! Was it written before or after the Lima hostage crisis in the Japanese Embassy? Identifiable characters. Set in Peru.

May 31, 2015

This is an unusual story of hostage-taking where the terrorists invade a party expecting to seize the country's president , but instead keep all 100+ guests because they never devised a plan for the possibility that the president would call in sick to stay home to watch a soap opera episode. Over the course of the four months or so of captivity we begin to see the terrorists and the hostages come to accommodations, and we become lulled into thinking nothing bad will happen. Real life is suspended and characters do things and events take place that would never happen outside the hostage house. The theme of opera being able to mesmerize stretched my ability to suspend belief, but I went along with it. I found the story intriguing, the characters interesting, and the flow and pace of the writing enjoyable. The message I got from this book was 'plan ahead'.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 22, 2014

A subversive group has taken hostage a group of people gathered in the vice-presidential residence of an unnamed South American country to be entertained by a world famous diva. As the days and weeks progress an unlikely cast of characters forge remarkable bonds of love and support in sometimes comic situations.

Aug 17, 2014

What a wonderful writer she is.

lbarkema Jun 19, 2014

This is a book that I consistently go back to for recommendations for patrons. Ann Patchett writes beautifully, and "Bel Canto" in particular is very compelling with it's vast cast of characters and their various ambitions and agendas. It was so interesting to read how these people were able to get along with such large language barriers. The ending was heartbreaking, and the epilogue was a bit frustrating, but for the most part I loved this novel and highly recommend it.

agbookclub2 Sep 17, 2013

The Angus Glen Book Club read this book as their September 2013 title. Everyone enjoyed the characters, writing style and story. They would recommend this read.

Aug 29, 2013

Read this book.

Jul 20, 2013

A friend recommended this book years ago and I loved it! I read some of the comments and just wanted to add mine let's not forget that it's fiction.

Jul 20, 2013

A book about love, friendship and impossibilities, with a translator and an opera singer: it couldn't have better united my two passions, language and music! I loved that this was really about human relationships, regardless of language and culture, that we can all connect at the deepest level around beauty, understanding and patience. It's interesting that the political and religious barriers that we construct are the ones to which we attach the most importance and in this artificial environment, Patchett was able to demonstrate the depth of the human soul, if only we had the time and the leisure... the ending is both dreadful and brilliant (although I could have done without the epilogue), an inevitable conclusion to this social experiment.
Definitely a must read.

Jul 04, 2013

In a secret, impoverished, unnamed Spanish speaking country (South American-ish) there is an inappropriately grandiloquent Birthday Gala. The guests are an international flock, (Russians, Frenchies and Germans oh my!) Business men, entrepreneurs, money-makers, visionaries, opportunists, music aficionados, priests and an elegant operatic diva. It is succulent, opulent, over the top...until the moment of the kiss and the ending of the light. They have been attacked by an uprising of rebels, kidnapped. It becomes a story of two sides. The Terrorists and the Hostages. This author was outstanding in offering me an invitation to sit at the table. I was right there, right away, witnessing the trials, confusion, control, compassion, miasma and mayhem. I jumped into this book with ease and walked through quickly. A unique tale. 4.5 stars for me. Took me well beyond Stockholm Syndrome and into the realm of truth, music, and the ties that find and bind the human heart. We are surrounded by worn boots, Tchaikovsky, tall grasses, uncooked chickens, machine guns, Verdi, last rights, St Rose, blood, chess, Rusalka and love. A good summer time read. Highly recommended.

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