Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bel Canto; Ann Patchett

Title: Bel Canto
Author:  Ann Patchett
Publication Year: 2001
Publisher: Harper Audio
Edition: audio book 
Reader: Anna Fields( very good)
Source: Library 
Date Completed: 9/1/2011 (?)
Setting: South America
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Ann Patchett is a favorite author, yet for some reason, it took me (10) years to read listen to this book.  I actually finished it about a month ago, made some notes, and finally had a chance to put together a short review.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  If there are others who haven't read this book yet, here is a little review.

Bel Canto (beautiful song) is somewhat of a political thriller, but one with emotion and compassion to some degree. The story is about a hostage situation which takes place in some unspecified South American country, when the Vice President of that country is hosting a birthday party at his mansion where some powerful people are in attendance.  The guest of honor is Katsumi Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese business man.

During the part a militant group storms the party. Their target is the country's President, but fortunately for him, he is not in attendance.  When the militants realize this, they take all the guests as hostages.  The hostage situation extends for months and some unexpected things begin to happen between the guests and the militants.  The key characters, Hosokawa, for example, is transformed by what has been happening and that transformation is a positive thing. Previously a man who busied himself in work, but found little passion in life, except from art, finds himself feeling like a new man through Opera music.  In the process, he becomes captivated by another party attendee, Roxanne Coss, an opera singer. 

Roxanne knows she is seen as very desirable among men because of her notoriety as a woman with a beautiful voice, but when it comes to relationships with men, she's a taker not a giver.  Another central character is Gen Watanabe, Mr. Hosokawa's assistant.  He plays a key role during this crisis serving as translator between the guests and militants.  In the process, he finds himself falling for Carmen, one of the terrorists.

The story was told from the third person POV which worked fine for this story. It was ironic, that for the key characters, it was only in the face of possible death, that passion stirred inside of them for the first time in their lives. Although some of the hostages are released, the key characters are in until the bitter end.  I found the ending to be somewhat of a shock, and although I wasn't thrilled with how the story played out, it did not spoil the listening experience for me. The reader was very good, and the story held my interest.

Have you read this one? What were your thoughts? 

I can finally say that now I have read ALL of Patchett's books.

31 comments:

  1. That sounds interesting and we like political thrillers!

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  2. I haven't read this one, in fact the book you sent me will be my first book by her.

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  3. hmmm interesting. my husband bought this book but never got around to reading it. i thought it was a chick book and made a mental note to try it out.

    reading your review has me convinced that i will NOT read it. hostages are not my thing. i see now why he bought it.

    thanks for the review, it saved me the hassle of reading it!

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  4. I read this years ago and it actually inspired me to take up the piano again which I'm glad I did. I haven't read any of her other novels yet though. Which ones would you recommend?

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  5. I enjoyed this one a lot. State of Wonder is on my short list

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  6. I loved this book! The ending was somewhat jarring, but I did see it coming because it was hinted at the start. The epilogue was a shocker for me though. I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

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  7. It is funny because I'm not a big Patchett fan but I like this one the most.

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  8. I had heard of this book and the author but never read this.I hope I do get to it at sometime.

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  9. This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages; I really need to read it soon. Thanks for reviewing it and reminding me that it still awaits me :)

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  10. I haven't read this one yet, though after reading her last book (my first) I've been told I should read this one. Thanks for the confirmation.

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  11. I enjoyed this a lot when I read it, but I needed to read your review to bring back the details. I just finished State of Wonder by Ann Patchett and posted a review today. I think I enjoyed it more than Bel Canto.

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  12. I hope to read Ann Patchett some day soon :)

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  13. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, it's another old one that I haven't read but I own the book and have an audio copy!

    I need to start reading some of my own books....

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  14. Although I liked Bel Canto, it's actually my least favorite of Ann Patchett's books. I've read them all except the latest. We almost chose that as our next book club selection, but decided to wait until it's out in paperback. I may not last that long!

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  15. This was my first Patchett and I remember being really impressed with it. It has been a long time since I have read it, so the details are a little cloudy, but I remember being very moved by the book and adding it to my keeper shelf, where it sits, just waiting to be reread. Great review on this one today!

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  16. I thought this was a wonderful book. Ann Patchett is just so good!

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  17. State of Wonder was my first Ann Patchett book. Now I want to go back and read her earlier stuff. Sounds like audio might be a good choice especially since I have a backlog of paper books.

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  18. I haven't read this one yet, but it is sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me to get to it (sigh someday). Anyway, I read somewhere that Patchett was inspired to write this novel based on a similar reali life event.

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  19. I loved this book. Read it before I began blogging, so no review, but I thought it was beautifully written.

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  20. I haven't read any Patchett books! Where do you think I should start?

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  21. This was a DNF for me. I gave it about 40 pages when it first came out and haven't been able to pick it up again. I might try it on audio some day.

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  22. I enjoyed very much this audiobook. in fact, at the same time I read another book by Patchett, State of Wonder, so I made a combined review: http://wordsandpeace.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/bell-canto-and-state-of-wonder/
    Emma @ Words And Peace

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  23. I wanted to like this book, but just didn't....

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  24. The end was a kicker, right? Like you, I liked it but didn't love it. It was my first Patchett but I plan on giving her another try.

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  25. I've never read any of Ann Patchett's book, but I did just pick up a second hand copy of this the other day, it sounds really great so I plan to read it soon. I'm also really interested in the premise of State of Wonder which I'd like to read soon too.

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  26. I've only read Patchett's Run, which I thought was pretty good, but this one sounds better to me. I'll have to give it a try at some point.

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  27. This was actually my first Patchett book and I loved it. She has a way of making the simplest thing beautiful!

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  28. I have owned this book FOREVER and still haven't read it. I really must get around to it..

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  29. I have heard so many good things about this book but I am still hesitant about it for some reason. Someday I will read it.

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  30. I *did* like this one, and was pleased it stood up to a re-read when my book group chose it.

    I don't remember if you've read STATE OF WONDER - I haven't yet read it and am a bit on the fence (funny, BEL CANTO has been my favorite of her books, and I use it as the scale to which I judge the others!)

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  31. I didn't care for this one as much as you did. I struggled with the awe everybody had for the main character. It didn't make sense to me.

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