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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

Critic Reviews

  • 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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,547
  • 4 Stars
    1,119
  • 3 Stars
    593
  • 2 Stars
    188
  • 1 Stars
    107

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,450
  • 4 Stars
    714
  • 3 Stars
    258
  • 2 Stars
    63
  • 1 Stars
    45

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,173
  • 4 Stars
    734
  • 3 Stars
    412
  • 2 Stars
    132
  • 1 Stars
    90
Sort by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

6 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • DIANE
  • Thornhill,, Ontario, Canada
  • 09-12-11

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 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible

This is the perfect meeting of well-written novel and talented narrator. What a treat! Ms. Fields is responsible for making this book live in the ear, mind, and heart. A stunning achievement.

7 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Kathy
  • Quincy, WA, United States
  • 07-15-11

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.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A true work of beauty

What an unexpected gift this book has been. Ann Patchett has a talent for revealing the aching beauty of moments, music, and people. Anna Fields was wonderful, portraying a multitude of characters from different countries with uniqueness, consistency, and personality.

I’m sad that I finished, which has a bit of eerie resonance with what the characters in the story must have felt at the end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I never wanted it to end

Wow. Such an incredible audio book experience; I wish it would have been 10 times as long and yet it was perfect just the way it was.

Cannot recommend highly enough.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A stream of voices

The narrator has a strong command of voice inflection that individuates the characters,bringing them to life as the story's perspective floats between them.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story

I ordered this book on a whim. It was such a wonderful and compelling story that moved quickly. The ending was really amazing and shocking. I highly recommend it!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved this! <br />

Everything about this book was wonderful. Thrilling and full of beautiful detail and description. I was fully engaged from beginning to end.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Are exaggerated accents necessary?

Far-fetched and corny. made worse by the over the top caricature accents by the narrator.