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Bel Canto | [Ann Patchett]

Bel Canto

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 guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening, until a band of terrorists breaks in, taking the entire party hostage.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: Ann Patchett's prose is, quite simply, miraculous. And Anna Fields' narration, amid all the nationalities and accents and characters, is superb. Together, the two bring to life a tale of such stunning imagery and emotion that you'll be replaying entire chapters just to see it again in your mind. —Chris Doheny

Publisher's Summary

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 guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening, until a band of terrorists breaks in, taking the entire party hostage.

But what begins as a life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different. 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.

Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto is a virtuoso performance by one of our best and most important writers.

Don't miss our free Ann Patchett interview. Patchett is an Audible CelebrityListener - find out what she's listening to here.

©2001 Ann Patchett; (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers

What the Critics Say

  • 2002 Orange Prize for Fiction
  • Book Sense Book of the Year Award Winner, Paperback, 2003
  • PEN/Faulkner Award Winner, 2002

"Patchett can be counted on to deliver novels rich in imaginative bravado and psychological nuance. This fluid and assured narrative...demonstrates her growing maturity and mastery of form." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mixing art and politics can have unexpected results, but rarely are they so poignant....[Anna Fields'] performance is the essence of Bel Canto, easy, pure of tone, with an agile, precise vocal technique." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (1835 )
5 star
 (709)
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 (596)
3 star
 (329)
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 (71)
Overall
4.0 (985 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.2 (977 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (130)
2 star
 (35)
1 star
 (29)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Karen Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-17-13
    Karen Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    53
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    34
    23
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "startlingly good!"

    If you read the synopsis, it is hard to imagine how engaging this story is. But it is. The premise is odd, but results is a fascinating interplay among characters you don't expect to find in the same place. Beautifully written with language to savor. The performance is exceptional - with the narrator giving life to many characters with a wide variety of nationalities, dialects and personalities.

    This has become one of my favorite audio books, and I will be looking for more by this author and this narrator, for certain.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 07-15-11
    SamanthaG Marietta GA 07-15-11 Member Since 2010

    SamanthaG

    HELPFUL VOTES
    173
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    230
    93
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    "Boring.....think I'll quit!"

    How can a book about terrorists taking hostages including a beautiful renowned opera singer brought to entertain at a political birthday party in an unnamed South American country be boring?? Don't know, but this one is. I've listened to hours of this and haven't been convinced to care about any of the characters or develop any interest in the plot. I keep going back to see how much longer this can possibly be and sadly I'm not quite half through it yet. But since I don't care what happens to the characters, I don't have to know the ending, so I think I'll stop listening and move on to something more interesting. I really don't understand all the positive reviews!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George Winter Park, FL, USA 04-17-09
    George Winter Park, FL, USA 04-17-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Not Really Bel Booko"

    Reasonable storyline, predictable outcome. Writing is decent but I'm not sure there's much depth or undertones. No idea why this is an award winner.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Belle Mead, NJ, United States 02-04-09
    Mary Belle Mead, NJ, United States 02-04-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Do you like Waiting for Godot? This is your book."

    I've listened 2.5 hours to date (n the book, it's morning after the attack). Ms. Patchet's prose may be "miraculous", but this art would be better appreciated in service of a plot. When last I left, she was describing the silk wrap of Edith Thibeault (spelling on character's name is approximate - don't forget, I'm listening). Why does anyone care? This is hardly high symbolic literature.

    Because I don't know the payoff ending (except that all the revolutionaries die), I'm beginning to think that this is an attempt to evoke The Bridge of San Luis Rey. Unfortunately, the characters are far less compelling.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Georganne Glocester, RI, USA 01-28-08
    Georganne Glocester, RI, USA 01-28-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    17
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    77
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "boring"

    I listened to the whole book, but I found it a bit boring.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sima 10-23-07
    Sima 10-23-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    28
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Disappointing"

    This is one of the most boring audio books to which I have listened. The details about the hostages daily life for 4.5 months was far from interesting. And as previous reviewers wrote, you will learn nothing serious about opera or hostage situations from this book. On top of all that, I thought the end was a bit ridiculous. I won't divulge the details though, just in case you do decide to listen. On a positive note, this is a great replacement for sleeping pills.... Just don't read it while you are driving.

    1 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Florida Native Florida 02-02-07
    Florida Native Florida 02-02-07 Member Since 2010

    Barbara

    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    48
    24
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    Overall
    "Worst book I've read in a long time"

    This book has poor plot, no action, no adventure, unrealistic characters and drags along forever. In other words no matter what aspects of a story you might enjoy I can't see any reason you'd like this book.

    Listening to it is like chinese water torture.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jerry South Hackensack, NJ, USA 11-29-04
    Jerry South Hackensack, NJ, USA 11-29-04 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    91
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    693
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "disappointing tale"

    This story had a great deal of promise in its set-up, but its execution seemed shallow and very unsatisfying.

    Save yourself the disappointment. You will learn little about opera, latin america, or hostages.

    3 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marilyn Loser Alamosa, CO USA 05-08-08
    Marilyn Loser Alamosa, CO USA 05-08-08 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    19
    10
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "not bella"

    After the first 10 minutes, little was believable in this tale. We're supposed to believe the victims sat around complacently for 2 weeks? and then months? The author's arguments for the incredible denial of victims was way too much for me and from what I've read of actual happenings. This had fairly favorable reviews so I kept listening hoping for something good.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Kingston, WA, United States 08-14-06
    Scott Kingston, WA, United States 08-14-06 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    27
    8
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Ambien for Listeners"

    This book is great (for putting me to sleep). All I have to do is slip on my ear buds and click on this story and sleep is just around the corner. Plus, it does not have the hangover of Ambien or Tylenol Blue. The only thing slower than this book is an unabridged version of Wagner's Ring Cycle.

    At first I was very unhappy about this purchase, but it has driven me to sleep now multiple times as i struggle with jet lag and stress.

    Unless you are an insomniac or an obsessed opera fan that believes the only reason people do not like opera is because they have not had exposure to it, you may want to buy a book from a different aria.




    0 of 6 people found this review helpful
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