Bel Canto Audiobook | Ann Patchett | Audible.com
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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 (1550 )
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4.2 (729 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Brian Tumwater, WA, United States 05-13-07
    Brian Tumwater, WA, United States 05-13-07 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Surprisingly engrossing"

    I looked at this book about 20 times before finally deciding to download it. Although it received lots of other great reviews, I worried it would either be depressing or hard to get into. It was neither, and was extremely enjoyable -- I'd definitely give this one a thumbs up. One of those books that makes you examine what it means to live in the present moment and enjoy the beauty of every day.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Herve New York, NY, USA 05-12-08
    Herve New York, NY, USA 05-12-08 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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!!!

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Laurel, MD, USA 02-11-05
    Chris Laurel, MD, USA 02-11-05
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    "Simply the best"

    This is the best audiobook I've ever listened to. I was spellbound by it. Anna Fields doesn't just narrate the story she becomes a dozen different people - most of them men! This is the kind of book that makes you wish for a traffic jam so you can listen longer. Of course, Patchett's story itself is compelling. The building of relationships between the hostages and the terrorists is perfectly built. By the end you've become a victim of Stockholm Syndrome yourself. I've recommended this book to just about everyone I know.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. C. Thomas Charlotte, NC United States 08-28-08
    M. C. Thomas Charlotte, NC United States 08-28-08 Member Since 2002

    technical writer

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Characters are Fleshed Out/ Plot is Slow"

    This book did not rivet me or make me excited to listen and hear what would happen next, but because of all of the good reviews and awards by the experts I stuck with it. I decided it was worth my listening time to wait for the payoff at the end. I knew there would be no plot surprise, because the author told me at the beginning of the book what was going to happen, so I was left wondering what was going to be the "other payoff." This is the deepening understanding that comes through spending hours with a group of characters that finally in the end show you something new about yourself. Unfortunately for me that did not happen. However, I did like all of the characters and I think the author painted a clear picture of most of her leads. I cared about them and I felt the pathos of what happened to them. I still was thinking of the book a couple of days later. But can I say that I enjoyed my listening experience? Maybe, but I don’t think it is one of my favorites.

    Going back to the rave reviews and literary awards. I can see that the union between her subject matter (opera) and her stylistic form was very well crafted. This form makes for a great discussion in a book review. However, is that a reason to highly recommend a book to readers? No.

    A suggestion... If these characters did more than sit around a house for four months getting to know each other the plot would have been more interesting.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 04-16-12
    Diana - Audible Oradell, NJ, United States 04-16-12 Member Since 2005

    "Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." --Lemony Snicket

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "In my Top 10..."

    Maybe I love Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto so much because my father used to be an opera singer; maybe it’s because I found the story so compellingly original; but maybe, and most likely, it’s because it was recommended to me in my first week on the job here at Audible by my two favorite colleagues. But no matter the reason, this is a must-listen based on the late Anna Fields’ lyrical performance alone.

    14 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathy Quincy, WA, United States 07-15-11
    Kathy Quincy, WA, United States 07-15-11 Member Since 2008
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    "So-So"

    The story line is unique, and characters interesting, but like another reviewer stated, the characters were unbelievably obsessed with opera, and were unrealistically unconcerned with their separated loved ones. The book drags in parts, but the narrator was very good. The ending came abruptly and was a little unbelievable. Overall, on okay read.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diana Redmond, WA, United States 06-22-11
    Diana Redmond, WA, United States 06-22-11 Member Since 2007
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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).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Judith Cherry Hill, NJ, USA 01-12-10
    Judith Cherry Hill, NJ, USA 01-12-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring"

    I never felt invested in the characters, and the end was largely given away at the beginning, so there was no sense of suspense and little drama. I listened until the end out of a sense of duty more than anything. Mostly I felt like this audiobook was a waste of my time.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09
    Roxanne Marrero, LA, USA 05-27-09 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
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    "Great novel"

    Great novel and reader. I really cared about the characters.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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