The writing and plot certainly kept me going and made me want to finish, but as others have stated, the ending fell flat. Just as the ending can ruin the most beautiful piece of music, this did. It put me off of Patchett for a while, as I felt the end and epilogue were tacked on ... but for no reason I could possibly think of. Made me consider the rest of the story "unreal" in retrospect.
Delightful story of a hostage crisis in which South American, American and Japanese visitors all learn to survive together, and the surprising relationaships that form in this vacuum without normal cultural barriers. Very suspenseful and emotional. Different from anything else you will read.
Unusual and facinating study of fear, accommodation and communication. There is nothing ordinary about Bel Canto.
The story opens at a diplomatic event in a third world country - a birthday party for the head of a Japanese electronics giant, featuring a world-renowned soprano and attended by a Who's Who of local politicians and international financiers and businessmen. When terrorists take the gathering hostage but can't find the president of the country (who is home watching his favorite soap opera), they are nonplussed.
The weeks-long hostage situation forms the basis for Patchett's story, and it's worth the time.
Outstanding. Based on true story of an abduction in South America, this gripping novel opens the doors to the worlds of opera, a rich industrialist, a working class translator, and a crew of desparate rebels.
A warm and poignant story despite it's unlikely plot -- a group of diplomats and distinguished guests of the president of a south american country are taken hostage by a group of terrorists. In the course of the novel we come to understand what motivates people's deepest yearnings and desires, and to care very much about the characters we are meeting.
I simply could not put it down. Patchett is as enthralling as the opera music in the story of a party taken hostage, and the unlikely relationships that blossom when simply given the chance. Bel Canto was beautifully written, and held me until the very end.
I really enjoyed this book. It was the first I'd read of her novels. I've been saving it to pass on to a deserving friend but now that I've discovered this site, it can be passed on to you. It is the story of a group of people taken hostage and the interactions between the hostages and the terrorists. A story about people and humananity.
This story drew me in pretty quickly because the characters are so well-formed. The plot premise is also very intriging; hostages in a mansion. As the story develops, so do the characters. It was really fascinating to see how Patchett enabled very diverse characters to form important, true relationships. This was a very good read.
This book was unlike anything I've read in years. It's not fast paced, but the characters are well-drawn and intriguing. Yes, the ending has some surprises that might not sit well with some viewers, but it is a must-read as far as I'm concerned.
This is one of my favorite books of all times. The character development is excellent. All the characters come alive and particularly the Japanese government official. You get lost in this book and sad when its done.
This story takes place in South America, where a financially strapped government decides to woo foreign investment by staging a lavish dinner party featuring a live performance by the world's most famous operatic diva. The party is attended by highly connected from all over the world, and suddenly it is highjacked by a heavily armed group of rebels from the forest.
Patchett's writing is so gorgeous it's beguiling, I floated along the first 250 pages in love with everything, her descriptions and characters and dialogue. It's incredible that she can present a hostage situation with sixty victims and fifteen terrorists, and write every single character so that they each have qualities that appeal to the readers' better nature. Incredible. It's as if we are all bewitched by the singing of lovely soprano Roxane Coss, and collectively affected by Stockholm Syndrome.
Eventually, the realization that things cannot continue lolling along in beauty and luxury and camaraderie hits and hits hard.
A very slow start. However it quickly turns into a beautiful love story - yes involving kidnappers! Not just love between adults, but love of nature, of families, of friendships, of food. Acceptance of where you are, who you are, and making the most of your given situation. The relationships were beautiful to watch grow. Not sure I understand why Ms. Patchett decided on the ending, but the story she wove together between a slow start and an odd ending was lovely.
I really enjoyed this book. It got you deep into unique characters and built a relationship with them. It dragged on in parts and abrubtly ended, so there was some disappointment, but I'd still highly recommend it.
Bel Canto relies very heavily on the knowledge of opera. While I am not very familiar with opera, the story line was still good. The book is set in an undisclosed foreign country, at a lavish birthday party. Terrorists take the party goers hostage and relationships emerge. It has received great reviews, including the Pen/Faulkner Award.
I am obviously in the minority in that I did not really care for this book at all. I struggled to get through it. Because it received such rave reviews and numerous awards, I kept waiting for it to get better. The premise is great, and it brings up some excellent points, but I found it very dull overall. Near the end I was just "skimming" to get through it and find out how it ends.
I enjoyed this book. It is an easy read that once in a while got bogged down with details and character descriptions, but generally well written. A story about some very important people (politician, world-renown opera singer, powerful business man, ect.) taken hostage during a celebration at the vice president's house somewhere in South America.
This was a beautiful and amazing story. I don't want to say too much in fear of giving anything away, but it is definitely worth a look. I'm going to hold on to this one for awhile, because I'll probably read it again.
This book was a bit slow to get in to. By the last third, I couldn't put it down!
The story is about a group of terrorists who take a group hostage. The author does a good job of relating the monotony of days and hours going by waiting to be saved. But then the lines between hostages and terrorists start to blur. By the end, they are a group of people unable to figure out how to get out of this situation.
The prose of this book reads like an aria; it is a little mysterious and very beautiful. Unfortunately the plot doesn't hold up as well as the author's skill with words. Ok for the most of the book, but gets rushed and kind of pointless as the end.
Reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, was an exercise in suspending reality. Not in the sense that it was not factual. Well written fiction can be based on fact, but does not have to be boring. Well written fiction stretches fact into fascination enough to get one's attention and be enchanted.
Bel Canto was enchanting in the same way as the main female character was enchanting. So much so, that every man in the book was in love with her, and there were more than 58 of them from my reckoning. Not counting the terrorists. I was never really sure how many terrorists there were. Though not as many as there were captives. I'm sure. One could say this is a love story of immense proportions, though quite one sided. But, this is not chick lit. There are bad guy revolutionaries with guns in this book too.
You will wonder over and over again, as I did, when the captives will overthrow their captors. But I got to the point where I didn't bother to wonder anymore with the interesting twists and turns this story held. I was captivated myself, and not willing to put the book down and walk away until .
There have been many terrorist plots over the centuries, their stories receded into history. Who doesn't like reading history? Dry history? Dates to memorize? Unpronounceable names of famous dignitaries who changed the course of history? Raise your hand. I didn't think so. Only some guy, with thick glasses, pasty skin and spends all his time in the library? I like history and I don't fit that profile, and I'm sure many others don't, too.
This story plays back in a gentler form, a part of history I've already lived, remembering the early 70's news reports from Central and South America.
Politics and intrigue often go hand in hand with well written history. And history written softly into fiction with Ann Patchett's prose is very easy to swallow, even for those looking for a good story to read who don't care about history.
Do you like Opera? No, not Oprah, the daytime TV show hostess. I mean, Opera, where "it ain't over til the fat lady sings". I don't think in today's culture many people understand Opera, like opera, or even want to hear it. Author, Ann Patchett, didn't know diddly squat about opera. so, why would she plan out a book with a main character who was a world renown opera singer?
Writer's, unless they really know their background information, must do research in order to create a believable story. That is exactly what Ann Patchett did. According to her, she fell in love with opera after her research. You don't have to like opera at all to enjoy this book. It would be the same with any incredible star, whoever that might be. Mick Jagger? Madonna? You name it. The love of the fans is what weaves all the parts of this book together, explaining the characters strengths and weakness for them. It also explains to me, why all the male characters in the book are in love with the opera singer. Did I mention that already?
The one thing I had a problem with in reading Bel Canto was the redundancy. Though she wrote with fresh words, it was still the same old fascination with the opera singer, who isn't, incidentally, the most fascinating character in the book. I found the supporting cast of characters, so to speak, much more interesting. Ann Patchett can write a well rounded character and slip it into the story like a popcycle into a child's mouth, cool, tasty, dripping with sweet and begging for more.
The thread of mystery and suspense is what kept me hooked on Ann Patchett's, Bel Canto. I read this book in a day and a half. It would have been a day, if I hadn't been interrupted. Don't ya hate when that happens?
Reading this book until 2 A.M. was totally enjoyable. I have thanked Bel Canto for the good read. Though she now sits snuggly on my shelf, she wont be there for long. I know soon, I will kiss that book good bye.
Very thoughtfully written. The author's voice recedes into the background, making you feel as though you are present and capable of noticing the fine nuances observed. Compellingly engaging and unflinching without ever resorting to "escapist" violence.
Bel Canto has been on my to-read list for years. In fact, I've started it at least 4 times. For some reason I could never past the first chapter. But I didnt give up, I eventually found the audiobook and tried that. The narration was ok, but even by listening to the story, I dont think that I ever got in to it. I was never captivated, not until the story was over, just before we came to the epilogue. Thats when I realized that I actually was engrossed in the novel. After it was over.
Because it took me until the end to realized that I was interested in these characters, I dont feel that I should give the book a very high rating. But on the other hand, I dont feel that it should get a low rating because, after all, I did end up liking it. Again, without the epilogue, but Ill get to that later.
The idea of Stockholm Syndrome has always held my interest. And I do believe that after the amount of time that the hostages in this story spent with their captors, it is very plausible that they did come to be companionable, if not friendly, with each other. I felt that over time, the characters came to life, but I think that I would have liked the book more had we been able to see inside the captors a bit more. What were their pasts beyond one or two flash memories? Why was it so important to free the prisoners who were the reason behind the take-over. It just felt like I needed more!
While I do feel like I needed more depth to some of the characters and plot lines, I could have done completely without the Epilogue! I think that by reading those last few pages, the book was ruined for me. What happened during those pages made absolutely no sense when compared to the rest of the entire book. It actually made me angry the way things were wrapped up. I wish the book would have ended after the final showdown. It would have been more tragic, in a classical way. I know that this book was loosely based on an actual event (which I am old enough to have remembered, but have somehow never heard of) and I dont know if the actual events came in to play with the ending that Ann Patchett wrote, but for the sake of the world of happy endings that I live in, I hope this was all Authors Liberties.
As Im looking back on my review, I realize that I'm almost confused by what I wrote. I almost want to rewrite it so that it makes sense. But I realize that its fine the way it is because this is exactly how Bel Canto made me feel. Confused
An excellent book that truly shows the complexities of human emotion. I never thought that I would be able to empathize with a group of terrorists, but by the end of this book, I could nearly relate. This book really makes you reconsider what lies behind actions, and exemplifies how actions speak louder than words.
About what might happen in a hostage situation - not what you may expect in this instance; more of a fictionalization of reality vs. unreality. Takes place in a large home and yard in a fictional, unnamed town in some country that is mostly jungle. It is interesting and I enjoyed reading it.
I like Patchett's style of writing and use of language. I have read other novels by her and her style is rich, languid, and haunting.
That aside, I decided that I really didn't care for the characters in this book, they did not interest me that much. However, the chapters I read were engaging. She sets up the novel in a slow, observant manner and I think it will turn into a good story, but is outside of my area of interest, this time.
I liked this book, but I didn't love it. The premise was very interesting, but the story dragged for me. Several others in my reading group felt the same way. Then again, there were several who loved the book and have read others by the same author that they praised as well. It's really a matter of what you like to read isn't it? I think this author is a student of human psychology and writes more from that viewpoint.
Absolutely stunning how the author allows you to see the young kidnappers as human beings with wishes and dreams and desires and she shows how the circumstances of our births can shape us without us knowing or even wanting it to. I disagree that the ending was a let down. We don't live in such a world where kidnapping and terrorism is commonplace and where the ending would be an all too logical conclusion, so I think it took people by surprise. Not your typical "happily everafter". Highly recommended reading! I can't wait to read her State of Wonder.
I found the story in this award-winning book refreshingly different and unique. It is about a months-long hostage situation in a South American nation that involves citizens from different countries who speak different languages. The character Gen Watanabe is a multilingual translator who bridges the barriers between terrorist and hostage and hostage and fellow hostage. Music and song, specifically opera, also erase barriers. I thought at first the length of their hostage situation seem unrealistic until I learned it was inspired by a similar event in Peru in 1996-97. Some have criticized the ending, but while I found it jarring, it was realistic. What was unrealistic was continuing the life and relationships created in the mansion under seige.
The plot was pretty hard to believe, but I allowed my willing suspension of disbelief while reading it. The epilogue really made me wonder why I wasted a week on reading it, however. The ending did not do it justice at all and left me very confused.
I loved this book. I wasn't ready for it to end. I love characters and in this book you really get to know the unlikely group of characters most of whom had never met each other before but will never forget each other now.
This beautifully-written book deserves the many accolades it has received. The setting is the home of the vice president of an impoverished South American country. The occasion is a lavish dinner party for a powerful Japanese businessman with entertainment provided by renown opera singer, Roxanne Coss. Those attending are prestigious men and their wives from different countries all speaking different languages. The party comes to an abrupt end when armed terrorists take everyone hostage. The only means of communication among these people is the Japanese translator, Gen. All of the women are released except for Roxanne Coss. Their captivity continues since negotiations are at a standstill, and life on the "outside" resumes. The relationship among the captors and the captives slowly is transformed into a routine that involves understanding and appreciation of each other, thanks in great part to Gen's ability to enable communication and to the feelings engendered by listening to Roxanne's amazing singing voice. This is a remarkable testament to the resilience and generosity of the human spirit.
Anne Patchett is a wonderful writer! This is the second book I have read by her and they just get better and better. Her scene and character development are excellent and she holds you in the plam of her hand until the last page. I would highly recommend The Magician's Assistant by her also.
Riveting from start to finish, especially for someone who's spent time in South America. Ann Patchett's way with words and ability to create characters who are human make fiction enjoyable for someone who generally avoids it!
This book is told in such a subtle way that sometimes I felt i was in the mind of the characters. I gained such an understanding of different social classes and was so drawn into the story i didn't want it to end. I'm a musician and I particularly related to the opera singer and pianist in the story, but also to the music lovers. This is a terrific book. Argentina and the form of government which is often military rule was described in a way that really makes you thankful to be in a democratic country (America). There is no judgement in this story, no taking sides, and many different nationalities are represented.
I read this book a while ago but It is such a good book I still remember it.This book had you feeling for the characters in the story and what they went through that night.I would recommend you read the book you wont be disappointed.
It's been awhile since I was in such a state of awe while reading a novel. I tend to be a bit critical but Patchett held me from open to close.... This was beautifully written emotionally. Bel Canto will stay with you long after you have read several others. Of her books, this is by far my favorite.
Bel Canto is one of those books that stays with you. You'll think about it, contemplate it, and never quite forget it. It's a fantastic pick for bookclubs and a great read by oneself. It's the tale of a hostage situation somewhere in Asia--we never quite find out where--and an examination of character. So many wonderful people to meet in these pages, and you can't help but wonder what might have happened five or 10 years down the road. One of my favorites.
At last, a story that pulled me in immediately with that lyrical description of the kiss on the first page. I struggled to put this book down after that. The premise of this novel is of South American terrorists (in a country very much like Peru) taking over 50 international guests hostage at a party, to include a Japanese businessman and his translator, an American Opera singer, and the host country's own Vice President. The violence and chaos of the attack unfold with poetic confusion, in scenes that seem to float passed in slow-motion, broken by small bubbles of internal dialogue. One unusual aspect of the book is its relentless omniscience, head-hopping mercilessly from one character to another, hostage and terrorist alike, even within the same sentence, and sometimes encompassing one collective point-of-view of everyone. This works to a point, but the sheer number of characters is a disadvantage. Patchett desperately wants to accommodate all of them and inhabit as many distinct minds as possible, diluting the reader's ability to form attachments to voices that fall away as quickly as they appear. I liked the concept of music as this magical healing force and of the hostages'/terrorist' surreal drift into a bizarre sort of unsustainable utopia, but I missed the dark edge a hostage situation demands. After the initial takeover, the terrorists suddenly appear too "nice" to actually kill anyone, the hostages too complacent to push their boundaries and "get away" with with things. Oh, and I'll just pretend that misplaced epilogue never existed. Overall, though, the story was captivating and intense, the prose made me green with envy, and I struggled to put it down.
This book is set in an unknown South American country where rebels take over the Vice President's house in a failed attempt to kidnap the President. It is a touching novel which weaves an unforgetable story out of such disparate elements as hostage taking, opera, chess, teenage dreams, undeveloped talents, and romance. The author skillfully draws you in to accept the improbable and believe the impossible. This book will not be easy to forget.
I enjoyed this fast-paced book; however, the author fails to tell you that it is based on a true story. I think an author has an obligation to inform readers if they write a fictionalized account of an actual event.
A fascinating and diverse group of people find themselves held hostage by a terrorist group in a small foreign country-each there for different reasons. The story evolves with relationships formed among captives and between them and their guards.
Very interesting book. I really enjoyed it very much. It is the story of a dinner party that becomes hostage for several months and all the relationships that ensue between captives and captors. Worth reading.
I finished this book and found the reading experience to be very satisfying and engrossing, overall. However I was disappointed with the ending. It was interesting how the hostages and terrorists formed their unions and alliances but the ending didn't work for me. I can't go into the 'why' without giving away information on the story though.
Set in South America, terrorists take all the guests at a party in a home hostage. An opera singer, powerful businessman, and the country\'s vice president are main characters. It is quite interesting; a page-turner.
I quite enjoyed this book. Some do not like the ending, but I'm not sure there could have been a different one. As most books, the end came very quickly, abruptly, and I was sad that I was done reading it. What a great story. This is my first Ann Patchett book, and I look forward to reading more.
I struggled with this book, but liked it, despite some rather repetitive sections, and parts that did not seem to flow well. The reasons I persisted were the glowing reviews and awards, and to reach the ending which, as reported, was depressing.
Bel Canto is a book that was recommended to me by an Internet friend whose opinion in books I generally trust. After reading this book Ican say that opinion has not wavered in the least.
I can't say the book is awe inspiring. Don't get me wrong, it's not bad. I found myself interested, even if I never fully engaged in the characters. The story itself draws you in more than any of the individual characters do. While I found Gen and his story more interesting than the others, each character had a sort of antiseptic feel to it.
I suppose the book took on a somber, observational tone for me, living under the cloud of heavy foreshadowing that was drawn in the beginning. If you care to pay attention to those pages, you know the fate of some of those involved - not all of them of course. But it's easy to forget this as you read. But this is a tale not defined by it's conclusion so much as it's playing out of a story.
For me, the beauty of this book is the smooth and graceful pace which the words are delivered. Like I said, the story itself isn't astounding. It's the manner she tells it which is the keeper here. It isn't full of theatrics but it is full of grace
All in all I can't say this is a remarkable book. Sitting here I find I don't have much else to say about it. I found the actual story to be decent, and the characters to be less than engaging. But I enjoyed the story, and found myself picking up the book willingly every day.
As I read this book, especially nearing the end, I could hear the soundtrack to a tragedy playing in my mind. This book contained adequate difficulty and heartbreak, but no happy ending; in fact, I was quite disappointed and a bit confused by the pair who married in the epilogue. But I will say that I sat down and read this book straight through without a break, and it was worth it.
Opera and terrorism make strange bedfellows, yet in this novel they complement each other nicely. At a birthday party for Japanese industrialist Mr. Hosokawa somewhere in South America, famous American soprano Roxanne Coss is just finishing her recital in the Vice President's home when armed terrorists appear, intending to take the President hostage. However, he is not there, so instead they hold the international businesspeople and diplomats at the party, releasing all the women except Roxanne. Captors and their prisoners settle into a strange domesticity, with the opera diva captivating them all as she does her daily practicing. Soon romantic liaisons develop with the hopeless intensity found in many opera plots. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars) balances terrorism, love, and music nicely here.
Claustrophobic and slow, this tale of a politically-motivated kidnapping gone horribly awry, is difficult to get through. The reader knows there will be no happy ending, even as the individual characters of the hostages and their captors begin to emerge from the group.
A group of diplomats are held hostage at the home of the Vice President of this South American country. This novel examines the bonding of different people. Similar to an incident in Peru a number of years ago.
Oh, My gosh, this woman can write! I just finished "The Magician's Assistant" and went right into this book. They are very diferent and both riveting. "Bel Canto" is a story of hostages taken at a state event in South America. During the book, the reader gets to know and love both the hostages and some of the terrorists, too. It just shows that people are people, after all.
Based on a true incident that I'd heard mention of. This book was a compelling story of how the hostages and the captors interacted over the course of the kidnapping. I loved the story, but the ending disappointed. After the great story, the ending felt slapped on at the last minute.
A beautifully written, slow moving journey. Follows the story of a group of hostages and hostages takers throughout a prolonged hostage situation, paying special attention to the vagaries and varieties of human emotions and relationships.
I read this for a book club and will probably not look for anymore from this author anytime soon. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but this story was definitely NOT fast-paced in my mind at all. I was not into all the introspection, and I agree that the ending was not satisfying at all.
I did not know it was based on fact and will look up the story, but I just did not enjoy this book.
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening- until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, a moment of great beauty, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds.
Somewhere in South America at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of the powerful businessman Mr. Hosokawa. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening - until a band of gun-wielding terrorists takes the entire party hostage.