We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
Bel Canto Audiobook

Bel Canto

Regular Price:$30.79
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

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 (3209 )
5 star
 (1360)
4 star
 (1020)
3 star
 (544)
2 star
 (182)
1 star
 (103)
Overall
4.1 (2232 )
5 star
 (1010)
4 star
 (645)
3 star
 (366)
2 star
 (125)
1 star
 (86)
Story
4.3 (2219 )
5 star
 (1250)
4 star
 (629)
3 star
 (237)
2 star
 (59)
1 star
 (44)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Herve Bronnimann 05-12-08 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    355
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    147
    21
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "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 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wayne Matthews, NC 08-01-15
    Wayne Matthews, NC 08-01-15 Member Since 2017

    I am a husband/dad/granddad who loves books. My reviews are my subjective opinions. My hope is they will help others make buying decisions.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12495
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1872
    1507
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    423
    4
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Bel Canto is an excellent novel."

    The story is about a hostage situation in an unnamed South American country. The story is intricate and two love stories are intertwined with the plot. Anna Fields, the narrator, has a rather deep voice, but she really excels with male voices.

    10 of 14 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
    296
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    206
    91
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    28
    0
    Overall
    "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 10 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
    289
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    73
    30
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    8
    0
    Overall
    "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 35 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
    59
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    143
    15
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    4
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher San Francisco, CA, USA 11-06-04
    Christopher San Francisco, CA, USA 11-06-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    0
    Overall
    "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 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne 05-27-11
    Anne 05-27-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    59
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    103
    22
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    1
    Overall
    "Enchanting"

    This audiobook is a pure joy. The narrator reads so beautifully, presenting each character like a present to the listener. The book, of course, is just like that -- the narrator does justice to Ann Patchett's enchanting book.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 12-23-16
    Gretchen SLP Sacramento, California 12-23-16 Member Since 2014

    I listen to something educational on my way to work to wake myself up, and listen to a page-turner on my way home to stay alert on the road!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2095
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    233
    229
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    541
    54
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beautiful and Lyrical 💋🎼"

    Two hours in to this strange book (for strange it most certainly is; there's nothing else quite like it), I was still very lukewarm on it, and considering giving it up. But at a certain point--maybe hour four or five--I realized I was hooked, and almost binge-listened to get to the end. It's like Patchett's other novels in that it's lovely, lyrical, mesmerizing, and above all else, fully internally consistent, like a flawless jewel or pearl. You do have to suspend your disbelief to get into it (these terrorists, as a previous reviewer noted, are too nice to be believed), but once you do, you're in for a helluva ride. The narrator is a perfect match for the material, too! I deducted one star overall just because it's not the easiest story to get drawn into, and readers who prefer plot/action over characterization may be bored.

    Grade: A. Bechdel Test: Pass.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13
    Patti Chittenango, NY, United States 08-04-13 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    783
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    566
    311
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    61
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    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 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 04-11-07
    Jack 04-11-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
    35
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "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 8 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.