Customer Reviews for

Bel Canto

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

12 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

Passionate Fate by Traci

Centered on the basics of Operatic Style, Bel Canto, is a well-written, passionate novel of chance. By including love, lust, and tragedy, Ann Patchett created this intense, lyrical novel. The events entailed within this novel are slightly based on true events which occu...
Centered on the basics of Operatic Style, Bel Canto, is a well-written, passionate novel of chance. By including love, lust, and tragedy, Ann Patchett created this intense, lyrical novel. The events entailed within this novel are slightly based on true events which occurred during December 1996. For four months, 14 terrorists held hostages captive inside the Japanese Embassy of Lima, Peru. The novel depicts the passion and anger many of the hostages might have felt during those four months. The novel was directly inspired by the hostage's captivity.

Starring Opera's famous Soprano, Roxanne Coss, Bel Canto opens with a bang. Katsumi Hosokawa had been in love with Roxanne's powerful voice since he developed his love of Opera. Today, he is a powerful owner of a Japanese Electronic company. Hosokawa's birthday was that evening. He wanted to celebrate and spend the evening listening to the beautiful melodies of Roxanne's voice. Hosokawa held his party at the mansion of the Vice-President of South America. Roxanne began singing one of the many pieces found in her repertoire. When suddenly, the lights go out, and the 200 foreign diplomats soon find themselves hostages of an unlikely group of young terrorists under the command of General Benjamin.

The novel expands from that evening and continues for four months. The hostages eventually learn that they need to help one another in order to get through this crisis. The terrorists would not allow them to leave the mansion. They were watched cautiously. Many of the hostages began bonding with each other and formed friendships. Even the cold-hearted industrialist Mr. Hosokawa used his love of Opera to teach him how to socialize with other people. He forges a friendship with his idol Roxanne Coss. She also found it in her diva character to associate with other people.

Through the four months, the captives are eventually granted more privileges from the terrorists. As ironic as it may be, the terrorists also befriend their hostages. Many of the people found inside the mansion change their demeanor. Those who were once shy and timid such as Ishmael learn to let their own voice be heard. The translator Gen Watanabe also learns to speak for himself and doesn't allow the language barrier found between the 200 foreign diplomats affect him. He finds his voice among the multiple languages he communicated with.

Overall, Bel Canto is based on fate. Many of the characters were polar opposites, but with the given circumstances, they find their soul mates. Only with fate could a powerful professional man like Gen Watanabe fall in love with a young terrorist from a small village in Latin America. Destiny also brought Katsumi Hosokawa and Roxanne Coss together. Their friendship blossomed into an intense loving relationship with the hands of fate.

posted by tdreyer on October 27, 2008

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Most Helpful Critical Review

4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

Ups and downs

Most books have good and bad parts, but Bel Canto really had it's ups and downs. On the good side, it had some very relatable characters that you wanted the story to end well for. It was well written, and quite descriptive. On the down side, it was a decent storyline, w...
Most books have good and bad parts, but Bel Canto really had it's ups and downs. On the good side, it had some very relatable characters that you wanted the story to end well for. It was well written, and quite descriptive. On the down side, it was a decent storyline, with a quite abrupt ending. At times, the description drew on a little too long, and grew boring. Overall, it wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it wasn't a bad read either.

posted by 5681185 on December 31, 2011

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Literary Masterpiece

    Ms Patchett has successfully extends writing techniques developed by Jose Saramago (Nobel Prize in Portugal) and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. If you liked Blindness or One Hundred Years of Solitude you will love this book. Bel Canto is a masterpiece of writing with a very controlled technique that doesn't waver throughout the book. It tells the story of a disparate group of people taken hostage in a botched attempt to abduct the president of an unnamed South American country. The setting is the palatial home of the country's vice president where a famous soparano has come to sing as a birthday president for a Japanese industrialist. The author manages to easily juggle numerous points of view simultaneously and seamlessly so the story is told sympathetically threw the eyes of the terrorists and the hostages. The story is suspenseful but requires close reading and also workes as an unusual love story.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 15, 2011

    An achingly beautiful story

    This is a story that remain in your heart long after you finish the last word. A timeless classic.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Another Excellent Ann Patchett novel

    I loved this book as much as I loved the other one I read by Ann Patchett: The Magician's Assistant. I was hooked on the first page. There is love, humor, conflict, etc. The situation is very unique, and to talk about it might spoil the surprise for you. I felt a little let down by the ending, but maybe it's just because I didn't want the book to end.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    I really was hooked from page one of this novel. It's truly a gr

    I really was hooked from page one of this novel. It's truly a gripping piece of literature. What I found amazing about the story was how although the characters speak different languages and come from different backgrounds, the language of music brings them together. It's quite a remarkable book. It should be apparent to anyone familiar with opera who the main character is based on. I wish the ending was different. (I never bought into the relationship that occurs.) But, it's overall one of the best novels I've read in ages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2010

    sublime

    This is a perfect novel.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2013

    Memorabje

    I felt like i was there. Transported to another country. Patchett is a master of setting. Also
    Loved how the characters developed and how their real talents and personalities were slowly revealed. Couldn't find my Puccini CD -- went out and bought a new one. Music heals. Read this book and hear the music.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Musically woven and told: Someone told me you can¿t write a no

    Musically woven and told:

    Someone told me you can’t write a novel without first choosing a single point of view. It’s not true. Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto uses multiple viewpoints to powerful effect, riding musically over events then focusing tight on the tune of a single voice, only to twist and turn away again. Terrorism writ small in the lives of a small group of people; terrorism writ quiet in the waiting game; terrorism where terror recedes and common humanity takes over… this novel paints the characters of a very real world while keeping the details secret, because it’s not the cause or time or place that matters so much as the people.
    Relationships grow in a microcosm of hope where captors and hostages settle in to eat and sleep, to watch and to learn from each other. A quiet sense of foreboding intrudes like the bass beat repeated with reminders that this settling life must end. The knowledge that any ending’s going to be bad plays a haunting refrain. But the author kept me guessing right up to the final resolution; I hoped as the people hoped, felt inspired by the opera singer’s song, and dreamed a better place.
    In the end, a book has to close and the world has to be reopened again. The author closes Bel Canto with a curiously convincing confidence, leaving the past still playing in the eaves as the last notes rise and fall in a haunting echo. I really loved this book.

    Disclosure: A good friend loaned me the book in hopes I might love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2011

    A wonderful summer read!

    The first Ann Patchett book I've read and I can hardly wait to read the rest of her books. Great character development, easy to fall in love with the characters. An ending so unexpected, I should have expected it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 19, 2011

    An excellent book

    This book was woderful to read. I hated for the last chapter to come and for the magic to be broken. It is one of the few books I have read piece by piece so I could savor it like a fine wine.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Such a great story.

    This is one of my all time favorites. The writing is excellent.
    A great story cleverly told that tells of a group of hostages and
    their relationships with their captors. Stockholm syndrome displyaed.
    The characters are so real you feel as thought you are there with them.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2007

    Bel Canto is Bel Libro. Beautiful Book!

    This is a top favorite. Pachette takes a conventional plot device--strangers forced into close confinement--and treats it with elegance, even humor. When revolutionaries of an unnamed South American country barge into a state dinner, taking 140 dinner guests hostage, they're disappointed: their real target, the country's president, isn't in attendance. He opted to stay home to watch his favorite TV soap opera! The hostages are held in the vice president's house for nearly a year. What begins as a tower of babel where captives speak in different tongues becomes a palace of enchantment--where time stands still and music overcomes the barriers of language to find common humanity in captors and hostages alike. I love this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2014

     

     

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2013

    Beautiful and thought provoking

    Highly recommend this atmospheric story

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  • Posted March 12, 2013

    Ann Patchett delivers another thoroughly wonderful book that is

    Ann Patchett delivers another thoroughly wonderful book that is about so many things all at once. Mostly it winds into slivers of love 
    stories and opera at the core. I could almost hear her singing, and enjoyed the visual content that her words painted in my head.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    I loved the book, it stayed with me for days after I finished it

    I loved the book, it stayed with me for days after I finished it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Powerful book

    Beautifully written book, insightful and poetic. I am left with strong emotions, thoughts, and images that will be hard to soon forget. Wow!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Kndrecka

    I loveeeeee that book it was so good and i was think not to read but i said dont juged that book by it crove

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    A fantastic book!

    I read this a few years ago and continue to recommend it to friends. The story and the emotions have stayed with me. One of my all time favorites!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2013

    Lyrically Written

    A great novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    Womderful

    Pure beauty exists, much thanks to Patchett for helping us find it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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