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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

4.0 (1980 )
5 star
 (774)
4 star
 (641)
3 star
 (358)
2 star
 (134)
1 star
 (73)
Overall
4.0 (1111 )
5 star
 (468)
4 star
 (322)
3 star
 (195)
2 star
 (71)
1 star
 (55)
Story
4.2 (1102 )
5 star
 (553)
4 star
 (339)
3 star
 (141)
2 star
 (40)
1 star
 (29)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Anna Tucson, AZ, United States 05-05-08
    Anna Tucson, AZ, United States 05-05-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    49
    7
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "bel canto"

    I chose this book based on the reader. She was fabulous. Her mastery of the accents and voices is remarkable. I am sad she is gone. The book started out slow but then gradually turned into a very heartwarming story. I hated the ending. It just didn't make sense, no matter how I tried to reconcile it.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Denver, CO, United States 04-04-08
    Barbara Denver, CO, United States 04-04-08 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    233
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Suberp!"

    Fabulous tale and wonderful narration.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michele Moorestown, NJ, USA 12-02-07
    Michele Moorestown, NJ, USA 12-02-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Loved it"

    Couldn't stop listening to this intriguing tale of a diverse group of strangers coming together in a confined environment. Loved all of the aspects - music, love, language, cooking, etc.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 06-18-07
    Susan 06-18-07 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    11
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Bel Canto"

    A truly wonderful book, I could not wait to get back to it. Extremely well read. Five stars!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ale Sunnyvale, CA, USA 02-05-07
    Ale Sunnyvale, CA, USA 02-05-07 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    61
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Good book with BAD narrator"

    I really am enjoying the book but keep finding myself irritated and disappointed with its narrator. To me it sounds like she has a tongue ring or speaks often with her mouth full. The only accent she does well is Spanish, and everyone else in the book (Russian, French, Japanese etc.) end up speaking with the same Spanish accent. This is irritating and distracting - the reason I can tell is that I am Russian myself married to a Frenchman. However, my complements to the writer. This is a very beautifully written book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra St. Louis Park, MN, USA 04-01-06
    Sandra St. Louis Park, MN, USA 04-01-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    17
    12
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    "Loved It!!"

    I listened to this book over a year ago and I still think of it often. It was entertaining, thought-provoking and sweet. One of the best stories I've ever read or heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Oakland, CA, USA 12-20-04
    Paul Oakland, CA, USA 12-20-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent commuter companion"

    This story was completely engaging and beautifully read.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-17-13
    Karen Philadelphia, PA, United States 05-17-13 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
    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
    192
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    237
    96
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    5
    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

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