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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 (1622 )
5 star
 (620)
4 star
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3 star
 (297)
2 star
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1 star
 (64)
Overall
3.9 (804 )
5 star
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4 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 (798 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
 (114)
2 star
 (31)
1 star
 (23)
Performance
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  •  
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-17-12
    Elle in the Great NorthWest Beaverton, OR, United States 06-17-12 Member Since 2011

    Love internet shopping, from audio books to nail polish to silk scarves. Audible & Amazon are my go to places.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A wonderful story and narration"

    Reading reviews,I understand this novel isn't for everyone, however, it struck me in the heart and has remained with me since I finished it-I haven't wanted to begin another audio book because I'm still living with the people in the Vice-President's house.

    I suppose it is a Stockholm Syndrome story at heart, but along with this easy to condemn psychological reaction is a group of sub plots, each detailing the intimate details of a group of people taken out of their usually busy lives and thrown together for months due to mis-planning of a group of Generals who don't realize they have grabbed for more than is possible.

    There are several star individuals, but my favorites are the young soldiers Carmen and Cesar-both innocent young teens who have been exposed to a part of the world they never imagined. Carmen to true love and Cesar to the opera as sung by Roxanne Cos, a renown singer brought to this house and kept as a prisoner who decides to practice every day.

    Gen, the translator is the catalyst that binds all 50 people, who speak many different languages. He is written in a delightful manner and really pulls things together.

    The story moves slowly, which will irritate those who want action in their stories I think, but for me it was perfectly paced. Anna Fields did a superb job of accents and detailing different characters. She puts each of the characters personalities clearly into her reading.

    I don't give 5 stars often but this novel rates that in my opinion. If a complex plot is to your liking, one with many characters and details, you will probably appreciate this story.

    I sure enjoyed it.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helen Tarzana, CA, USA 11-23-04
    Helen Tarzana, CA, USA 11-23-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    5
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    "Beautiful and moving"

    I find myself thinking about the Bel Canto characters as I fall asleep and when I wake up....and then I have to remind myself that they are not real people. I prefer non fiction to fiction, but this novel grabbed me in a way that was utterly unexpected and moving.

    After listening to (and loving) Truth and Beauty, I decided to give Ms. Patchett's fiction a try. What can I say? Her writing feels like a personal gift to be treasured forever.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    271
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    Story
    "Intriguing"

    The story takes a long time to get going. Even after it gets going, it takes a long time to complete. And then BAM! The ending is here and the book is over. I am not sure if I like that or not. But the story is worthwhile to listen to.

    There are no great insights into the minds of these characters. There are a lot of characters. They are all pleasant. But they are not me. I am not a high ranking political official, nor am I the head of a company, terrorism is not something I dream about, and I am not a well-known opera star. But Patchett brings these people to real life, and presents them as if they were you and me. And that is why this book is good.

    The narration is okay. I do not think Fields does accents well, and the demand in this story is great with Japanese, Russians, French, Danes, Germans, and Spanish characters involved. But it is acceptable. I knew which characters are speaking in each passage.

    The ending is unsettling, although reality would have it no other way. But it did seem rushed. The last scene "explains" it all but those present do not make sense to me (or at least some of them). But I do not want to spoil it. Would be a good bookclub discussion.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann Ridge Spring, SC, United States 12-29-11
    Ann Ridge Spring, SC, United States 12-29-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "quite good (except for the epilogue)"

    I really liked Bel Canto. The story is good and unique and it grabbed me from the beginning. The writing is so wonderful....it is beautifully written yet easy to follow and listen to. I thought the pacing was just right and the reader did a great job. There were many characters and many different accents and the reader kept them from running together and sounding the same.

    As much as I liked Bel Canto, it's not a perfect book. I thought the terrorists (especially the three generals) were too nice and permissive and this seemed a little unrealistic. Also, because there were so many characters, some of them weren't very well developed. In particular, I wanted to know more about Roxanne and her early years/background. Some of the characters were great, though. Gen (the translator) was so developed that I had a bit of a crush on him. I wasn't happy with the epilogue. There wasn't ground-work put anywhere in the story for what happens in the epilogue, so it seemed unbelievable to me and like kind of a cop-out. The epilogue also only addressed what happened to four of the characters in the story. There were a lot more characters than that and I wanted to know what happened to more of them.

    Overall, though, Bel Canto is good and enjoyable and I will probably listen to it again at some point. I like Ann Patchett's beautiful writing so much that I will seek out more of her books.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacquelyn ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, United States 08-13-10
    Jacquelyn ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, United States 08-13-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well written but opera-obsessive"

    Ms Patchett writes very well and creates a believable story between the haves and have-nots. I felt all characters were overly obsessed with opera which felt unnatural.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lajuan Idabel, OK, United States 09-28-09
    Lajuan Idabel, OK, United States 09-28-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Awesome and Tragic"

    This book is so incredibly well written that words do not do it justice. Just awesome. I so admire a writer that has the gift to live and communicate an intricate, loving, perfect story. This is not to say there is not sadness, tragedy and injustice but then this also is life. In this book these emotions are balanced with honor, appreication, and love with it's many faces. I love this book. Brava Ann Patchett; Anna Fields so perfect; we have lost such a talent in Ms. Fields. She will not be forgotten. For those with vision deficiencies she gave the written word life.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TX Home Cook 04-29-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Book...Believable Characters"

    I enjoyed this book very much. The story line was unique and the characters were all very believable. The reader was appropriate to the story...completely objective whether speaking from the point of view of the terrorists or the hostages. All in all a very good listen!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robin San Acacio, CO 04-08-09
    Robin San Acacio, CO 04-08-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Read, Poor Epilogue"

    It was a good story with inevitable ending but the epilogue followed only one situation and 3 characters. It would have been better to hear about post adjustments of some of the other characters.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jenny Wichita, KS, USA 08-05-08
    Jenny Wichita, KS, USA 08-05-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating and haunting"

    Although there were parts of this book that seemed to move too slowly, I was glad I persevered. In fact, I got up in the middle of the night to listen to the last hour and a half.

    Although the ending of the book (epilogue)might seem to wrap up a little too neatly and conveniently, there actually was a tragedy in my own community that 'ended' much the same way. While I think I might have enjoyed something more complex in terms of a resolution to this story, the book was still a very good read, and I enjoyed it immensely.

    If you become interested in opera after listening to this book, check out the print edition. In the back of the book, the author addresses how her own interested in opera developed, and she includes specific references.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Evans New York, NY 02-08-05
    M. Evans New York, NY 02-08-05 Listener Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "well worth it"

    The narrator does a really great job switching from voice to voice. I normally don't enjoy audible fiction as much because of how difficult it is to narrate dialogues in a convincing way. But this book was a pleasure.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
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