Bel Canto

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And furthermore, from the eginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Swiss Red Cross negotiator Joachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands. Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Eventuall, of course, something has to mak.

Hearing opera sung live for the fourth time, th young priest reflects:
Nobod had he thought, never once, that such a ma existed, one who stood so close to God that God 's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to all up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the arth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the ouse, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and hen out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.
Year of the Publication
Available Languages
Number of Pages
Original Title of the Book
Bel Canto
Publication Date
Published August 2nd 2005 by Harper Perennial (first published May 22nd 2001

Public Commentary

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rated it

Terrorists with gun earned sympathy worshipping that beauty only.

priest found his God next to him.Bel Canto embodies art itself.

rated it

Travelling by train, I had plenty of time to writ, but missed a lot of the beautiful countryside ( especially of France and Switzerland) because I simply could n't tear myself away from his nove, it was that ood.

My husband woke up on the train at one point ( the ending of he ook) to my sobs.

I wa just formed such a strong attachment to the characters in his essa that the ending hit me almost as hard as losing a friend.

I expect to read it again to write a fair review.For the time being, apparentl, first I loved the writing.

" Bel Canto " referring to he beautiful song that was the idyllic life of the hostages and captives.

I just loved it.I gave this book five stars, but it ha n't absolutely perfect.

I as n't as impressed, as moved, or as eager to share this book with others as I was last time around.

rated it

Which rings me to one of my avorite haracters, the translator Gen. Without Gen, the ntire story could actuall have happened, because he as the one who helped people communicate.

Gen is constantly in demand, translating from English to Spanish to Russian to Japanese and back to English again.There are some urprising and emotional attachments that form -- even Gen falls in love!

-- and by the nd of this essa, I as in tears.

rated it

Set in an unspecified South American country, the story egins at a birthday party thrown at the country 's vice presidential home in honor of Katsumi Hosokawa, the visiting chairman of a large Japanese company and opera enthusiast.

هدف آن‌ها رئیس‌ جمهور است، امّا او در این جشن حضور ندارد.

rated it

Another very excitin story that happened in Peru, a country with a name and a history more interesting than opera, but this I 'm afraid was not that story.It upset me to know that Patchett was using a piece of Peruvian history with no intention of telling tal of Peru or its political unrest or even including a proper description of the country.

I guess I woul n't be ffended that she dedicated this whole book to an opera singer who was n't even part of the crisis and even gave it an Italian name, but th little bit I am.

Admittedly he " about he book " section is dedicated all to loving opera without a mention to the actual crisis that inspired the events.There is a passage in the ook about Roxane, the opera singer, singing a Czech piece and Gen, the translator, notes the distinction between knowing the words and speaking the language and only someone who spoke the language would see the lack of nderstanding.

And the other of what I feel about Peru and the crisis situation, trying to meld that visual to this story.I realize that this is anothe piece of fiction and Patchett has the artistic license to write a fictional description of the crisis anyway she wishes, but I did n't like this story she wante to tell.

I kne as though Patchett was using this story as a vehicle to force me to love opera and me on the other side of the pages resists for nothing les than the force of her request.It took me over 200 pages to get into this 300-page story and the las stuf that eventually drew me in and saved it was the relationships between the hostages and their captors.

rated it

his " 1-Dayer " deserves applause& praise indeed as it will alway stay with you like some truly terrific (& best yet, catchy) song for days, for year to come.What happens when terrorists take over a party held in honor of a Japanese businessman at the ouse of the Vice President of some unknown South American city?

rated it

The book came highly recommended, and then I tarted reading, I kept thinking I had already but could n't, for anothe life of me, remember how it starte.

Bel Canto is a fictiona story based loosely on those events.I only liked Bel Canto.

I nderstand its appeal- the coming together of hostages and terrorists alike, but he writing as a bit too ethereal and romantic for me.

I end to think that perhaps the terrorist from a South American country, where musical tastes are a bit different, ight not have been so cast under her spell, but I migh be wrong.

Again, I say his was the author 's way of romanticizing the event by leaving out the crapping of pants and desperate pleas for loved ones, but something was annoyingly contrite and calm, even the terrorists themselves, who seemed awfully nice and understanding.

rated it

How might a wanna-read-bad TBR turn into a sorry-ass DNF? WTF?

Thi title, however, shooed me away for a ong while; I hate opera and all its bel-canto-ness.

Eventually a friend assured me that it wasn ’ t about opera, that it was about a terrorist attack with a bunch of hostages.

Who doesn ’ t like a good hostage story, as long as it ’ s in the hands of a pro?

I don ’ t remember how she wante it, but Patchett managed to ake a terrorist attack boring.

I don ’ t now what she was thinking, seriously.I don ’ t like opera, as I ’ ve said.

So there would have been at least a few hostages and terrorists who didn ’ t like it either.

I anted so much to love nove, and god knows I didn ’ t know to leav it.

I didn ’ t expect my love of Ann Patchett tainted.

rated it

The party is hijacked for political reasons but what transpires during the ext severa onths are the unusual relationships that are forged by the beauty of a voice which unites both terrorists and hostages.

I am smitten now with you, Patchett, but, I reserve the final star for the ending I was n't as smitten with.

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© Nicole Waggonner