Reader reviews and comments on Bel Canto, plus links to write your own review.

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Bel Canto

by Ann Patchett

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
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  • First Published:
    May 2001, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2002, 336 pages

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There are currently 31 reader reviews for Bel Canto
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Louise

Bel Canto
Loved, loved loved this book. So many meaningful passages that provoke one yo think of their own past love(s). Will read again-to catch all of Ann Patchett's subtle nuances!
Sheila Balls

Bel Canto
Not until the last page does a character think about marrying for love and he casts this age old saying into a new light. This book causes us to examine love in its different kinds between characters caught in a strange existence. For some, there is more meaning to their lives than ever before.
Fahd Imam, period 4 AP english

Book Review: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
In Bel Canto, Patchett seamlessly combines action, romance and a high level of maturity to produce an amazing fictional novel that truly deserves winning the PEN/Faulkner award and Orange Prize for Fiction. It is Patchett’s best work and one that will undoubtedly touch its readers in a very intimate way.
   In the book, Patchett uses entrapment as a means of creating a very unique and bizarre situation, allowing her to generate an interesting set of characters, whose everyday interactions and changing relationships form the heart of the story. After a failed kidnapping, the terrorists and hostages in the story learn to get along and live in harmony, creating an isolated world of their own in a mansion (the location of the hostage situation). [edited to remove plot spoiler] .. the beauty and significance of the book lies in capturing the temporary society created within the hostage situation, a society that reveals many interesting facets of human nature, as well as the many shifting relationships within the mansion between the individuals that form that society. Thus, the book provides a reader with a terrific insight on society at every level, ranging from individual characters (the protagonists) to small groups (such as the Russians who tend to associate most with one another) to the terrorists and the hostages.
   In the book, an interesting form of a utopian society is created. As the terrorists and hostages live side by side, trust is cultivated between the two groups and their interactions become more casual. In a way, the generals (leaders of the terrorists) represent the government, the other terrorists represent enforcers of the law, and the hostages represent the common people. If the book is examined in this context, one can clearly see an evolution of the relationship between the government and the people in what Patchett may consider to be a perfect society. Similarly, the prospect of the police invading the mansion and hurting its inhabitants can be seen to represent the danger of the outside world. Patchett herself, through one of her protagonists named Roxanne Coss, wittingly calls the situation a "failed social experiment".
   One of the major lessons presented in the book is that passions can get people through the direst of situations. Early in the book, the hostages feel hopeless and powerless, knowing that their welfare lies in the palm of the terrorists. Patchett then inserts her own passion, opera, as the saving grace in the mansion. When the opera singer and protagonist Roxanne Coss sings for the mansion’s inhabitants, everyone feels a renewed sense of hope and will to live. Readers come to see opera in a completely different light after reading this book, as it is music that becomes the language crossing cultural and language barriers, as well as barrier between hostages and terrorists. Another passion in the forefront of the book is love, as two separate love stories emerge within the book. In one of the love stories, both lovers are a little older and thus aware that their love will probably not last; the other love story involves two young lovers who have the hope of a better life for the both of them.
   Bel Canto is a very engaging book that cannot be put down once one has started reading it. The social and political issues it covers are embedded well into a riveting story that keeps its readers hoping and dreaming along with the characters of the book.
cathy

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I'm studying this novel for school and I think its fantastic! And although some people in my class hate this book, it is so easy to talk about as a class, as its has so many different levels. I love the way the whole book (format, story line and meanings) relate to opera and music!Ii recomend this book to anyone whole loves opera and hopeless love stories!
Jon

This was a great book. There is tremendous character development and interaction. It really makes you feel like you're in the mansion with the rest of the characters.
Anonymous

This book was a delight to read. The author, concentrating on the beauty of the singer/singer and the skill of the interpreter, managed to bring to light how human nature needs to love someone, that our attraction to someone is as much based on emotional response as it is on verbal communication. She also illuminates the need for humans to have meaning in their lives, no matter how narrow that life might be. The acts of kindness and affection that spring up between captor and captive seem fantasy, but really happen in real life: consider for instance the jailor and the prisoner in the penitentary setting. A surprise ending for sure, but plausible if you consider why Mr. Hosakawa came to hire Gen to begin with.
bm

I am surprised the previous 2 raters rated this book low. This is one of the very best books I have had the distinct pleasure of reading. I especially like the character of the owner of the home, the vice president. THere are too many beautiful and insightful and brilliant moments to recapture here, suffice to say I was sad the book ended, wished it could have gone on forever.
gvd

This book was absolutely amazing. As a character-driven novel, Bel Canto reveals humanity in its purest form, providing for an emotionally affective story. I consider this book to be a five because as I read it seemed as though I was uable to turn the pages quickly enough; ironically as I absorbed the story, I realized the inevitable ending of the novel, yet suppressed my knowledge for my hope of a happy ending. Such an ability to deeply affect a reader reveals the brilliance of an author.

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