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Bel Canto Audiobook

Bel Canto

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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 (2958 )
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4.3 (1987 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Elle (AKA PlantCrone) in the great NorthWest OREGON 06-17-12

    Audible Fan, Amazon Customer, Gardener, Quilter, Liberal and Activist. I'll read about anything!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Story
    "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.

    16 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lajuan Idabel, OK, United States 09-28-09
    Lajuan Idabel, OK, United States 09-28-09 Member Since 2012
    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.

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Herve Bronnimann 05-12-08 Member Since 2014
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    "Superb and haunting"

    I haven't written a review for a long time, but I feel compelled, although it's been more than six months I've read/listened to the book. The story starts in one direction, it's not too hard to fllow but also not very compelling at the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to listen to the whole book. It's well worth if you pass the first hour or two, as then plot takes on some completely unexpected turns, and the story unfolds as a beautiful love song(s). The reason I give it five stars is because, it is one of the few audiobooks which have kept with me long after I finished them. I love the Time Traveler's Wife, for the same reason. The writing is suberb, and the situations don't have to be believable. It doesn't take long to really feel sorry for everyone and yet enjoy the contradictions of the "huis clos" in the embassy. For those who may wonder (like me before I started to listen), there is not much relation with the Peruvian embassy takeover, although the setup is pretty much the same. Once we're locked in with the hostage, it doesn't matter where or when we are, it's all about the interrelationship between hostages and their captors. Enjoy!!!

    15 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Didi Redmond, WA, United States 06-22-11
    Didi Redmond, WA, United States 06-22-11 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful writing, poor story."

    There is no question, Ann Patchett's ability with the written word is certainly one to admire. This is the first book of her's that I have listened to or read and I picked it up on the recommendations of the other reviewers. However, all that being said, I was sorely disappointed by this book. These are the nicest terrorists I've ever heard of, the characters are unbelievable and over-dramatic, and the ending is abrupt and lame. It almost seemed like Ann got tired of writing and needed an easy out.

    In my opinion, what started out with such promise simply fell flat. I thought Ann wrote beautiful descriptions and I enjoyed her style of writing, but this story was so unbelievable that I will probably never venture back to this author. Last note, the narrator's accents tried my patience here and there, but not enough to ruin the experience, especially considering the myriad of accents she had to cover (French, Spanish, Japanese, Russian).

    10 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 03-24-05
    Susan PEARLAND, TX, United States 03-24-05 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sorry, I don't agree."

    I didn't like it. If I want to learn about the Stockholm syndrome, I'll read a psychology textbook. I found this book positively dismal. The characters and situations are so sad, and you feel from the beginning that things aren't going to turn out well for most of them. I was so depressed by the end, I was sorry I hadn't turned it off sooner.

    23 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 09-12-11
    DIANE Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada 09-12-11 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid "reader"- I prefer to listen to books rather than read them due to the added dimension added by the narrator.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Hypnotic story"

    I really enjoyed this book and felt that some of the reviews it received were not reflective of the strength of this wonderful author and the way in which the characters were carefully crafted and developed. The only weak spot, in my opinion, was the quality of the reader's voice that was somewhat monotone in nature and did not duplicate the tenderness and sensitivity of the text she was reading. Well worth reading.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 04-11-07
    Jack 04-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Can't I give it 10 stars?"

    This book is absolutely one of the best I've ever experienced on so many levels: characters, story, prose, humanity, ... And I'm very glad I'm listening to it rather than reading it -- the narrator brings the book to life. A depth of feeling infuses this book, and the expressiveness of the writing is almost magical. I will be sorry to finish Bel Canto, and I will seek out others by both this author and this narrator.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Evans New York, NY 02-08-05
    M. Evans New York, NY 02-08-05 Listener Since 2004
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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 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher San Francisco, CA, USA 11-06-04
    Christopher San Francisco, CA, USA 11-06-04
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    "Remarkable depiction of the Stockholm Syndrome"

    Patchett does an amazing job of drawing us into this drama of the Stockholm syndrome. From the terror of the first attack through the developing personal relationships between the tribes. Despite the centering of the Red Cross negotiator and the priest, I found myself being fooled into a sense of timelessness just like the characters.

    The themes of timelessness, music and lives lost to business very very compelling.

    11 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Charlottesville, VA, United States 09-16-11
    Lawrence Charlottesville, VA, United States 09-16-11 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Tried, but couldn't get into it"

    I really wanted to like the book, but it was too slow and after 3 hours of listening (with my iPod turned up to "fast" narration) I gave up, mainly because I realized I didn't care about the characters even after so much time with them. I can generally tolerate and appreciate slow character development, as long as it is sufficiently rewarding. Something about these folks didn't click and I don't really care how their hostage ordeal ends...

    6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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