Bel Canto

Bel Canto

A Novel

Book - 2001
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Baker & Taylor
When terrorists seize hostages at an embassy party, an unlikely assortment of people is thrown together, including American opera star Roxanne Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa--a Japanese CEO and her biggest fan.


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 gunwielding 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 and people from different continents become compatriots, intimate friends, and lovers.

Publisher: New York : Harperluxe, 2001
Edition: 1st Harperluxe ed
ISBN: 9780061719868
Branch Call Number: Lg Print Fiction Pat
Characteristics: 495 p. (large print) ; cm


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DBRL_IdaF Aug 10, 2017

Beautifully written. Interesting premise. In an unnamed South American country, a plot by rebels to kidnap the president goes as far awry as possible. The president is not in attendance at the party they crash with their guns and demands. What was meant to be a quick in-and-out kidnapping turns into a months-long hostage situation, with several young rebel soldiers guarding an international contingent of politicians and businessmen, plus one opera diva and a very overworked translator. As time drags on, alliances and bonds are forged, with a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome settling down on everyone.

Despite the guns and military element, this is much more a character drama than an action novel. The characters learn a lot about themselves as they grow and change in response to their unusual situation.

Mar 26, 2017

Loved it! Bel Canto has as its premise a massive international hostage-taking, but with an huge heart that symbolizes all humanity in microcosm. Like a dream, the slow pace depicts the characters as “who they are” and gradually peels and reveals layer upon layer, begging the question: what’s real? Patchett brilliantly folds a terrifying situation in on itself, allowing individual inner growth and bonding amongst the unlikeliest of characters – an exultation of our shared humanity. Then she balances it with page-turning flares of viciousness and panic. Loved it.

Dec 28, 2016

Beautiful, moving and one of my favourite books.

Oct 15, 2016

Very well written and I agree that it felt like its own universe. The gradually growing empathy for the terrorists was the most intriguing part about this story. I did not find it romantic in the slightest, however. The women in the story were treated like objects (on a pedestal, to be worshipped for their beauty and talent) rather than persons, which makes for a strange concept of intimacy and relationships.

ehbooklover Sep 18, 2016

This book had been in my TBR list for a while now. I have always been intrigued by its concept and had heard wonderful things about it from coworkers and friends. They were right! I really enjoyed it. A unique and beautifully written story full of wonderful characters that kept me engaged and invested in the outcome until the very last page.

Aug 25, 2016

This was my first Patchett book; I was underwhelmed. Great story line, some memorable characters. But it seemed to me the point of the story was emerging awareness of everyday ecstasy when we stop/slow down. That has value, but to describe that clarity with too many words seems to miss the point. A hundred fewer pages would have made a better book.

Jul 25, 2016

This was a well written, engaging story. I would have liked to see a note by the author about the real events the fictional book was based upon.

Incredible masterpiece. Patchett is a one of our great author talents!

Jan 09, 2016

The story line and the characters are likable. Very intense plot with a hostage setting. The reader learns about many of the characters. Violence and language warning. This is a memorable story.

Sep 02, 2015

This novel is very moving and thought provoking. I strongly believe in the calming, soothing and healing power of music. Music transcends language barriers and brings people together. Music plays a pivotal role in this novel. I see this story as a parable of how people from different cultures and of different politics can co-exist peacefully when they get to know each other and give each other a chance. It is also about finding your niche in life. The hostages bonded with their captors, which sometimes happens in actual cases. Patchett has a creative style and her characters emotions and observations were interesting. There was some ethnic stereotyping in the book.

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BostonPL_AnnaD Aug 29, 2015

BostonPL_AnnaD thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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Nov 26, 2013

Based on the Lima Crisis, this book is about a group of terrorists who hold high executives and people of high political standing hostage. It explores how the terrorists and hostages cope with living in a house together for several months. Many of the characters form unbreakable bonds of friendship, while some fall in love.


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Sep 08, 2011

All of the love and the longing a body can contain was spun into not more than two and a half minutes of song, and when she came to the highest notes it seemed that all they had been given in their lives and all they had lost came together and made a weight that was almost impossible to bear.


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