Bel Canto, Paperback
4 out of 5 (20 ratings)


The poignant - and at times very funny - new novel from the author of 'The Magician's Assistant', shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

Latin terrorists storm an international gathering hosted by an underprivileged country to promote foreign interest and trade, only to find that their intended target, the President, has stayed home to watch his favourite soap opera on TV.

Among the hostages are a world class opera singer and her biggest fan, a Japanese tycoon who has been persuaded to attend the party on the understanding that she will perform half a dozen arias after dinner.

The tycoon's engaging and sympathetic translator plays a vital role in the subsequent relationships between so many different nationalities closeted together, interpreting not only the terrorists' negotiations but also the language of love between lovers who cannot understand what the other is saying.

Ultimately, it is the terrorist strike that does more to promote foreign relations than anyone could have hoped to achieve with the party.




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Showing 1 - 5 of 20 reviews.

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A must-read! We loved the build up of characters.

Review by

A literary thriller /love story/ tragedy. A group of party goers is taken hostage by a revolutionary group in an unspecified Latin-American country. Ms Patchett uses the Stockholm syndrome but in reverse - many of the captors who are largely young adults identify with their captives. Several different kinds of love develop - father for adopted son, teacher for gifted pupil, the love of friends and man for women, within this small , mostly male community .first class book.

Review by

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.This was ok. Not very exciting.

Review by

First I liked it, then I really liked it, then suddenly the epilogue killed it all. Well, not quite, but you get the idea. I would have torn out the last chapter if it was my copy, but its a bit out of order to do that to someone else's book so I decided to let it go.Nonetheless, prior to the last chapter it is a moving and interesting look at people overcoming barriers of language, culture, and conflicting loyalties to build strong relationships and alliances. Perhaps a little overwritten with very rich language, but not distractingly so. The plot developments mean you have to stretch belief, but I enjoy that kind of heightened reality.

Review by

Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto is about a party in a generic South American country which is taken hostage by terrorists. The party was international, given in honor of a Japanese industrialist in hopes he would invest. To attract him to the party, his favorite opera singer is invited. The party was hosted by the Vice President, and the President, the target of the terrorists, didn't bother to come to the party.. The terrorists, losing their main objective, are lost as to how to end the crisis. The book is the story of the months of captivity in the house, and the characters of the people caught up in the problem.While the book didn't seem stirring during reading, it stayed in the mind. It led me to imagine the later life of the characters, and to remember their fate as if it happened to someone I knew. Excellent and recommended.

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