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.
©2001 Ann Patchett; (P)2001 HarperCollins Publishers
"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)
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.
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.
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!!!
I'm loving audio books more each day-being able to walk the dog, do the dishes or keep an eye on grandkids in the pool-all while listening to a book is great. My favorite genres are mystery/romance, some paranormal and lots of Science Fiction.
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.
Magnificent, Magnifico, Magnifique-- I'm not one to use superlatives yet wish I was fluent in Japanese, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish...because this...canto...I almost hate to trivialize it by calling it anything other spans multiple cultures and sensibilities with a grace and and authenticity I rarely find in any book, any author. The author sets the conditions for the story early on, she tells you what will happen...yet it is impossible not to read, to become enraptured with the interlocking stories and characters as they reveal themselves to their most unlikely counterparts (artists, diplomats, terrorists...). The author's pitch is perfect all the way through, she manages a flawless denouement, Brava, Brava, Brava!
The narrator is perfectly matched to the book, I believed her in every character, gender, accent she personified - wonderful job on her part.
I hate to keep spewing these superlatives, but I think it's the kind of book that, if people read the summary of the plotline, they might shy away from -- so I hate to divulge...anything, just urge others to listen, it is my personal "read of the year."
It's not often you find a book that has an excellent plot AND reads like poetry. I thought every sentence from this book was worth treasuring and pausing over, but I was so interested in seeing what was going to happen, that I rushed through it. Fortunately, I'll enjoy listening to it a second time just as much.
I loved all the well-developed characters, and it was so refreshing to read a book with such a unique premise.
This book had the effect of making me want to appreciate to the fullest every day of the rest of my life.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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