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10 thoughts on “Bel Canto

  1. Lucy Lucy says:

    This book came highly recommended, and once I started reading, I kept thinking I had already but couldn t, for the life of me, remember how it ended Turns out, it only seemed familiar to me because it is based on a real life experience In 1995, the president of Peru and many of his guests were taken hostage and held for months Bel Canto is a fictitious story based loosely on those events.I only liked Bel Canto I understand its appeal the coming together of hostages and terrorists alike, bu This book came highly recommended, and once I started reading, I kept thinking I had already but couldn t, for the life of me, remember how it ended Turns out, it only seemed familiar to me because it is based on a real life experience In 1995, the president of Peru and many of his guests were taken hostage and held for months Bel Canto is a fictitious story based loosely on those events.I only liked Bel Canto I understand its appeal the coming together of hostages and terrorists alike, but the writing was a bit too ethereal and romantic for me SO much emphasis placed on opera, as if it s the universal band aid I know a lot of people that don t enjoy opera at all In fact, a music lover myself, I d have to admit that most of opera is an acquired taste The hugeness of the voice, the strong vibrato and foreign languages take some getting used to However, according to the author, there is no politician, businessman, servant or gunman that doesn t fall into a deep state of hypnosis when a soprano begins her song I tend to think that perhaps the terrorist from a South American country, where musical tastes are a bit different, might not have been so cast under her spell, but I could be wrong I ve never thought of it as the only offered solace to a terrifying situation.Which leads me to the other thing that I find a hard time believing Terroristswith guns.coming through air vents into a vice presidential palace and no one seems particularly petrified throughout it all Again, I think this was the author s way of romanticizing the event by leaving out the crapping of pants and desperate pleas for loved ones, but everyone was annoyingly contrite and calm, even the terrorists themselves, who seemed awfully nice and understanding The end was appropriately tragic I read a few reviews that described this as an example of magical realism, a genre I try and avoid so this labeling surprised me Maybe all the lack of fear, suspended time and happy hostage household was part of it The ending, while sad and tragic, satisfied my need for logic and realism This event seemed to have a larger psychological effect on the survivors then the original hostage takeover Whether or not that is realistic or not, I have no idea.I wish she hadn t written her epilogue It was unnecessary and unbelievable Sort of like how all doctors on a hospital television show end up as couples, as if there were no one else in the world to date or socialize with view spoiler I did not believe or think that Gen and Roxane belonged togethereven with their personal losses hide spoiler.The book as a whole, however, is not void of greatness The Russian cabinet member and his story of the box was poetic Cesar s natural talent and love of performing made me cheer And the inward look at most regarding their professions and priorities was very appropriate All combined, it makes for an enjoyable, flawed book


  2. Annalisa Annalisa says:

    Let me preface this review by saying that I know this a disproportionately emotional review, but it s my review and my emotions and it is what it is.In 1996, the home of the Japanese ambassador to Peru was taken hostage by guerillas during a party and held for 126 days until the home was raided by military force killing all the insurgents, many executed after they surrendered At a time when Peru suffered an undercurrent of terrorist activity, president Fujimori was praised for his handling of t Let me preface this review by saying that I know this a disproportionately emotional review, but it s my review and my emotions and it is what it is.In 1996, the home of the Japanese ambassador to Peru was taken hostage by guerillas during a party and held for 126 days until the home was raided by military force killing all the insurgents, many executed after they surrendered At a time when Peru suffered an undercurrent of terrorist activity, president Fujimori was praised for his handling of the crisis and his approval rating soared Since then, the commanders in the Peruvian army have been on trial for homicide but granted amnesty because they were praised as national heros President Fujimori himself is in prison for human rights violations, not from this incidence, but still an interesting side note since those loss of rights are linked to his low tolerance for terrorist activity A very interesting story that happened in Peru, a country with a name and a historyinteresting than opera, but this I m afraid was not that story.It upset me to realize that Patchett was using a piece of Peruvian history with no intention of telling a story of Peru or its political unrest or even including a proper description of the country She only refers to the host country or this godforsaken country in a vague brush of one of those South American countries that aren t very important or distinct Did she neglect to put Peru in the story because it defames the country or really is it that they just aren t interesting enough to her I know I shouldn t be offended that she dedicated this whole book to an opera singer who wasn t even part of the crisis and even gave it an Italian name, but a little bit I am Even the about the book section is dedicated all to loving opera without a mention to the actual crisis that inspired the events.There is a passage in the book about Roxane, the opera singer, singing a Czech piece and Gen, the translator, notes the distinction between knowing the words and speaking the language and only someone who spoke the language would see the lack of understanding Maybe my reading this book was a little like that I felt like I was reading two books simultaneously The one about opera with vague, inaccurate concepts of an unnamed Peru where, if I had let Patchett guide my visual picture of the book I would have imagined the Von Trapp house stuck in the middle of thejungle And the other of what I know about Peru and the crisis situation, trying to meld that visual to this story.I realize that this is a piece of fiction and Patchett has the artistic license to write a fictional description of the crisis anyway she wishes, but I didn t like the story she chose to tell A hostage situation is intense, but even the takeover she stretches through wanderings of the love of opera and manages to dull it so that not even the hostages seem anything other than mildly putout Maybe it s because I m not a opera lover there are opera pieces I enjoy, but as a whole it s not something I seek out , but I found it unbelievable that all these people most of them men would be so mesmerized by an opera singer and all of them fall in love with her and her music I felt as though Patchett was using this story as a vehicle to force me to love opera and me on the other side of the pages resists for nothingthan the force of her request.It took me over 200 pages to get into this 300 page story and the only thing that eventually drew me in and saved it was the relationships between the hostages and their captors In a normal setting I may not have believed it, but I did of the generally humble Peruvians, which is why the country should have been vital to the story It took Patchett awhile to get there, but eventually I did like the characters Even though I knew how it would end, I was anxious for the conclusion, to avoid inevitable tragedy I could have done without the epilogue that was unnecessary and cheap If Patchett wanted to include an epilogue, maybe she should have included one about the actual events Or maybe it s all too appropriate that Peru was ignored Okay, I m done with my Peruvian inferiority complex over here Feel free to talk about the actual story in your review or in the comments section.1.5 stars, somewhere between a book prevented from being a great story and a book that upset me according to my own star ratings I did find some merit in the book by the end, but it wasn t enough to overcome Patchett s inability to research her setting


  3. Fabian Fabian says:

    Holy crap This 1 Dayer deserves applause praise indeed as it will surely stay with you like some truly terrific best yet, catchy song for days, for weeks to come.What happens when terrorists take over a party held in honor of a Japanese businessman at the house of the Vice President of some unknown South American city A translator is thankfully employed, a Diva is made to sing like a modern Scheherazade Renaissance flourishes as these individuals in the most insane of circumstances co Holy crap This 1 Dayer deserves applause praise indeed as it will surely stay with you like some truly terrific best yet, catchy song for days, for weeks to come.What happens when terrorists take over a party held in honor of a Japanese businessman at the house of the Vice President of some unknown South American city A translator is thankfully employed, a Diva is made to sing like a modern Scheherazade Renaissance flourishes as these individuals in the most insane of circumstances come together to realize the true WORTH of people and the VALUE of themselves This is what all those characters in Boccaccio did anyone reaching the very heights reached by Boccaccio must MUST be extolled This Stockholm Syndrome is comical, sad, romantic It s written with a less amount of elegance than the cover promises but that is hardly ever a fault in this book, ripe so ready to be inscribed into the canon


  4. Jaidee Jaidee says:

    1.5 overwrought, stereotypical, ridiculous stars 2015 Most Disappointing Read Award tie Of all the books on my reading list, Bel Canto was one that I was most looking forward to You see after my faith and my loved ones the thing I most adore is Opera Opera has been my passion, my solace, my escape and the most direct connection to my emotional life I have found Opera beautiful, profound, wise and affirming I was introduced to Opera at the age of 10 and since then there has not been 1.5 overwrought, stereotypical, ridiculous stars 2015 Most Disappointing Read Award tie Of all the books on my reading list, Bel Canto was one that I was most looking forward to You see after my faith and my loved ones the thing I most adore is Opera Opera has been my passion, my solace, my escape and the most direct connection to my emotional life I have found Opera beautiful, profound, wise and affirming I was introduced to Opera at the age of 10 and since then there has not been a day where I have not listened to it I remember traveling through Colombian jungle with some friends at the age of twenty four and ran out of batteries for my discman I was working through some obscure Russian opera at the time My mood plummeted so severely that one of my friends took out her AA batteries from her mini flashlight now that s a good friend so that I could listen at night until we reached the next village.I read The Patron Saint of Liars by Patchett in 2013 and thought it was a very good book 3.5 stars full of psychological insight and an understanding of what disconnection does to family relationships I was expecting this book to be even better as it won awards, was a later novel and for God s sake was about Opera.From the get go I felt my heart sink and chapter after chapter I read in disbelief that this was the same book that others gave such accolades The book rang so false to my ear The melodrama and overly disgustingly sweet sentimentality was jarring, discomforting and infuriating.I somehow suspected that Ann Patchett had subcontracted a junior writer from Disney Animation and another burned out writer from Harlequin Romance to come together and churn this out while she joined their ideas and linked them with a very few gorgeous passages The characters were absolute caricatures with extreme gender and ethnic stereotypes The emotions and story line were completely illogical and the whole experience left me both angry and depleted.The only thing that will act as salve to cure my disappointment is to go and listen to Diana Damrau sing some heavy Richard Strauss songs with orchestra Thank goodness for that.Addendum My partner just noted that I rated Veronica Wants to Die by Paulo Coelho higher than this This is getting scary


  5. Jen Jen says:

    How did Patchett do this A seemingly horrifying event turned into a mystical one Where lines of good vs evil are blurred Where time is suspended.It s a birthday party gala in South America The guest of honour, a powerful Japanese figurehead, almost didn t make it himself except for the soprano whose voice he adores As the final note is sung, the lights go out and the guerrillas enter The party is hijacked for political reasons but what transpires during the next few months are the unusual How did Patchett do this A seemingly horrifying event turned into a mystical one Where lines of good vs evil are blurred Where time is suspended.It s a birthday party gala in South America The guest of honour, a powerful Japanese figurehead, almost didn t make it himself except for the soprano whose voice he adores As the final note is sung, the lights go out and the guerrillas enter The party is hijacked for political reasons but what transpires during the next few months are the unusual relationships that are forged by the beauty of a voice which unites both terrorists and hostages Where for long moments during this siege, captivity is interrupted and they are a group of people witnessing a main attraction, living it day to day.Patchett is an artist She details a portrait in which I bear witness I searched arias and operas to get a sense of the beauty and passion this music can evoke I m in awe and for that I m rating it a 4 I am smitten now with you, Patchett, but, I reserve the final star for the ending I wasn t as smitten with


  6. Ahmad Sharabiani Ahmad Sharabiani says:

    Bel Canto, Ann PatchettBel Canto is the fourth novel by American author Ann Patchett, published in 2001 by Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers It was also adapted into an opera in 2015 Based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis also called the Lima Crisis of 1996 1997 in Lima, Peru, the novel follows the relationships among a group of young terrorists and their hostages, who are mostly high profile executives and politicians, over several months Many of the characters form u Bel Canto, Ann PatchettBel Canto is the fourth novel by American author Ann Patchett, published in 2001 by Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers It was also adapted into an opera in 2015 Based on the Japanese embassy hostage crisis also called the Lima Crisis of 1996 1997 in Lima, Peru, the novel follows the relationships among a group of young terrorists and their hostages, who are mostly high profile executives and politicians, over several months Many of the characters form unbreakable bonds of friendship, while some fall in love Set in an unspecified South American country, the story begins at a birthday party thrown at the country s vice presidential home in honor of Katsumi Hosokawa, the visiting chairman of a large Japanese company and opera enthusiast 2017 1395 373 9786003261853 21


  7. Debbie Debbie says:

    How could a wanna read bad TBR turn into a sorry ass DNF WTF DNF OMG WTF Who AM I I finish every book I start, yet I did not finish this one And I LOVE Ann Patchett Her State of Wonder is one of my all time favorite books What the fuck is going on DNF I m having a serious crisis here Have I thought this out carefully Can I really pull off abandoning this book I must do it Calm down It s okay Listen to your friends who whisper, It s fine.let go A zillion other books are beckoning How could a wanna read bad TBR turn into a sorry ass DNF WTF DNF OMG WTF Who AM I I finish every book I start, yet I did not finish this one And I LOVE Ann Patchett Her State of Wonder is one of my all time favorite books What the fuck is going on DNF I m having a serious crisis here Have I thought this out carefully Can I really pull off abandoning this book I must do it Calm down It s okay Listen to your friends who whisper, It s fine.let go A zillion other books are beckoning Yes, life is too short to keep reading something you hate If I repeat that last sentence enough times, I ll start believing it, right OMG Oh my god, I did it I DNF d it, and I didn t die A weird feeling still remains, however I m so speechless about throwing this book out the window that I ve resorted to acronyms to express myself, blurting out clumps of capital letters and exclamation points Usually I rely on strong verbs and a chain of touchy adjectives, but here, no I just have unpronounceable cap combos Now that s bad.Let s start with the fact that yes, I ve been dying to read this The title, however, shooed me away for a long while I hate opera and all its bel canto ness Then a friend assured me that it wasn t about opera, that it was about a terrorist attack with a bunch of hostages So I ignored my title hatred and rubbed my hands in glee Who doesn t like a good hostage story, as long as it s in the hands of a pro And I knew Patchett s a pro I don t know how she did it, but Patchett managed to make a terrorist attack boring I didn t get a sense of mad confusion or terror it all seemed muted and sort of civilized And eventually, many of the terrorists become nice guys I know she wanted to show their humanity but she went overboard.And my biggest complaint is that she told us immediately who wins in the end Completely ruined it for me The fun is in wondering how it turns out I don t know what she was thinking, seriously.I don t like opera, as I ve said Surely there would have been at least a few hostages and terrorists who didn t like it either But no, every single person seemed to be transported to la la land when the little songbird opened her mouth If it were me lying on the floor, surrounded by armed terrorists, I would be bemoaning not only my questionable fate, but also the fact that I was stuck in a room listening to non stop eardrum shattering high pitched screeching Just my luck, I d be thinking It would disrupt any calming thoughts I was working on, it would take away any chance I had of internal peace I d be begging the terrorists for ear plugs.The characters were lifeless and boring and I didn t care an iota about any of them, much in the same way I don t give a shit about cardboard The only thing I liked was imagining a whole group of people lying face up and motionless on the floor, having conversations while looking at the ceiling This unique scenario seemed trippy, and I loved thinking about horizontal chit chat.Somehow Patchett managed to take the tense out of terrorism, no easy feat It was pure torture to pick this book up, and I only made it halfway through I wanted so much to love this book, and god knows I didn t want to abandon it I wanted the reality to be different I didn t want my love of Ann Patchett tainted Because now whenever I think of the sweet State of Wonder, I ll also think of the sour Bel Canto Very sad Of course Patchett is a skilled writer The language is eloquent and there is some insight But seriously, I just didn t give a damn


  8. Danielle Danielle says:

    This is one of my top five favorite books Bel Canto made me a devoted Patchett fan, although her other work hasn t quite stood up to the high expectations this one set for her Just to set the scene, I read this book while on a three week trip through Europe Travelling by train, I had plenty of time to read, but missed a lot of the beautiful countryside especially of France and Switzerland because I simply couldn t tear myself away from this book, it was that good My husband woke up on the This is one of my top five favorite books Bel Canto made me a devoted Patchett fan, although her other work hasn t quite stood up to the high expectations this one set for her Just to set the scene, I read this book while on a three week trip through Europe Travelling by train, I had plenty of time to read, but missed a lot of the beautiful countryside especially of France and Switzerland because I simply couldn t tear myself away from this book, it was that good My husband woke up on the train at one point the ending of the book to my sobs I was so overcome I couldn t even tell him what was the matter he was really worried for a minute therethen he thought I was crazy I should clarify that I m not an especially emotional person I had just formed such a strong attachment to the characters in this book that the ending hit me almost as hard as losing a friend Plus, it was just so beautifully done that the loss was almost bittersweet This book gave me so much to think about that I wanted to grab someone anyone who had read this book and talk it all out with them Well, that was almost two years ago, so my furor has died down I need to read it again to write a fair review.For the time being, though, first I loved the writing I admire any author who can tell a great story with the words ushering me along rather than tripping me up Another reviewer referred to the book as lyrical and I heartily agree It was just beautifully done Second, such richly imagined characters were a delight to spend time with I thought each character was fully developed and interesting Even the minor characters, about whom I received limited information, still felt real And I got the sense that there was so muchto know about them lurking just below the surface Finally, the story was heartbreakingly beautiful As my waterworks attest, it was very moving, without feeling like my emotions were being made sport of In the ending, it all just came together for me Bel Canto referring to the beautiful song that was the idyllic life of the hostages and captives But just like the opera singer s song had to end eventually, their peaceful suspension from reality could not endure To me, what made the story and the illusion so poignant was the knowledge they had all along that it WOULD end An audience can t fool itself into thinking a performance will last indefinitely, but perhaps the awareness of the end in sight makes the beauty of the moment all thevaluable That reference made this story evenmeaningful to me I just loved it.I gave this book five stars, but it wasn t absolutely perfect I actually strongly disliked the epilogue I found it disheartening, somewhat contrived, and generally unecessary The story would have been better off without it In spite of that, this book is everything a great book should be.UPDATE Reread in August 2009 I still loved it, and enjoyed the writing, but it wasn t the same experience it was the first time I wasn t as impressed, as moved, or as eager to share this book with others as I was the first time around It must have just been the way it hit me at that time in my life Even without it being the earth shatteringly awesome book I felt it was before, I still highly recommend it


  9. Diane Diane says:

    To me, this book is luminous Glorious Magnificent Perfect Well, almost perfect I ll explain in a moment I first read Bel Canto in 2005, and I was so absorbed in the story that I would sneak away from my desk at work just to have a few precious moments with it The story opens with a renowned opera singer, Roxanne Coss, giving a private performance at the home of a vice president of an unnamed South American country Several people in the room are already in love with her, and others wil To me, this book is luminous Glorious Magnificent Perfect Well, almost perfect I ll explain in a moment I first read Bel Canto in 2005, and I was so absorbed in the story that I would sneak away from my desk at work just to have a few precious moments with it The story opens with a renowned opera singer, Roxanne Coss, giving a private performance at the home of a vice president of an unnamed South American country Several people in the room are already in love with her, and others will fall in love with the sound of her voice.The moment she s done singing, the room is stormed by guerrilla fighters, and everyone in the home is taken hostage What follows is a fascinating look at what happens when a group of strangers are forced to live together for weeks The fighters make demands, a poor Red Cross volunteer acts as intermediary with officers outside, and meanwhile, everyone inside the house tries to get along, despite numerous language barriers Which brings me to one of my favorite characters, the translator Gen Without Gen, the entire story could not have happened, because he was the one who helped people communicate Gen is constantly in demand, translating from English to Spanish to Russian to Japanese and back to English again.There are some surprising and emotional attachments that form even Gen falls in love and by the end of the book, I was in tears My only complaint is with the ending, which I won t spoil, but to say I was devastated is an understatement But given the scenario, you can t really expect a happy ending, can you The characters are beautifully drawn, Ann Patchett s writing is gorgeous, and some of the scenes are so vivid that it would make a wonderful film I would heartily recommend this book to anyone who loves literary fiction Brava


  10. Nishat Nishat says:

    Men of great importance were held hostage with a soprano Until they realized how trivial their existences have been to the world and the world s to them Men of different countries, men of different taste and language shut their eyes to the same beauty Terrorists with gun earned sympathy worshipping that beauty only A priest found his God next to him.Bel Canto embodies art itself The book celebrates the love for what is beyond and what is incomparably greater Our deaths don t define us, nei Men of great importance were held hostage with a soprano Until they realized how trivial their existences have been to the world and the world s to them Men of different countries, men of different taste and language shut their eyes to the same beauty Terrorists with gun earned sympathy worshipping that beauty only A priest found his God next to him.Bel Canto embodies art itself The book celebrates the love for what is beyond and what is incomparably greater Our deaths don t define us, neither our birth places It is always the things we seek And Ben Canto beautifully explores that I wanted to write a book that would be like an opera in its structure, its grandeur, its musicality, its melodrama.Anne Patchette s carefully woven tale moves from one being to another within a room And for a confined story such as this, she gives life to a soaring voice Drawing no line for herself, the abundance of well crafted words and flow of noble emotions in this savage plot, can get overwhelmingly on one s nerves which may as well explain the mixed reaction.In Bel Canto best human qualities blossom and present the philosophical problem that comes with the idea of every ideal society With all the contradictions coming from a single room, there s no doubt the room wouldn t stand when the time comes


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Bel Canto In an unnamed South American country, a world renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band ofterrorists enters the vice presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera And thus, from the beginning, things go awryAmong the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types Swiss Red Cross negotiator Joachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months Joined by no common language except music, theinternational hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves Ultimately, of course, something has to giveHearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God s own voice poured from her How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven