Skip to main content
PBS logo

Search - Bel Canto

Bel Canto
Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. 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 ...  more »
Info icon
ISBN-13: 9780060934415
ISBN-10: 0060934417
Publication Date: 4/1/2002
Pages: 318
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.

3.9 stars, based on 881 ratings
Publisher: Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

Leigh avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 378 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 15
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 337 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 20 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
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.
lectio avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 88 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 8
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.
Read All 153 Book Reviews of "Bel Canto"

Please Log in to Rate these Book Reviews

reviewed Bel Canto on + 49 more book reviews
A love story based on music
kpurvis avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 43 more book reviews
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.
eadieburke avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 1610 more book reviews
Based on true story in Peru in 1996, when rebels from the leftist Tupac Amaru movement raided a party at the Japanese ambassador's residence and took hundreds of civilians hostage including American opera star Roxane Coss, and Mr. Hosokawa, a Japanese CEO and her biggest fan. It is a captivating story of strength and fragility, love and imprisonment. It was interesting to read about the different relationships that formed between the terrorists and the hostages of different backgrounds and languages. We quickly learn that music is their only common language. The tragic ending was a bit of a surprise and the epilogue seemed like an abrupt change back to normal life. If you are a music lover then I think you would enjoy this award-winning book.
knut avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 59 more book reviews
This story line can be all too familiar, hostages, dictator, armed rebels, innocent civilians. I have read this twice for my own enjoyment and convinced my book club to read it years ago. The story line and character development lead to some interesting discussion.
I like the author's development of the plot and unfolding to interactions and relationships as the tension grows.
animlgrl avatar reviewed Bel Canto on + 84 more book reviews
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 77 more book reviews
This book pulled me in. Suspenseful. Believable. Even now, months/a year after reading it, I remember the story almost perfectly. You won't forget it either. A good read.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 988 more book reviews
Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. 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 breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots.Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 116 more book reviews
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 6 more book reviews
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.
reviewed Bel Canto on
It was a book that actually held my attention with many international characters.
reviewed Bel Canto on
Interesting book with great character development.
reviewed Bel Canto on + 25 more book reviews
Quick read. Interesting setting and range of characters about a terrorist group who takes over a set of hostages at ane embassy. Plot develops inside the embassy and tells the story of the interaction between complete opposites and cultural levels.

Book Wiki

Gen (Primary Character)
Roxane (Primary Character)
Carmen (Primary Character)
Ruben (Primary Character)
Messner (Major Character)
(Show all 6 People/Characters)