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Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing 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.Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give, even in a novel so imbued with the rich imaginative potential of magic realism. But in a fractious world, Bel Canto remains a gentle reminder of the transcendence of beauty and love. --Victoria Jenkins --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
A marvelous book...entertaining, informative and well written....This was my first work by Ms. Patchett, but it will most certainly not be the last!Published 2 days ago by Richard Theobald
Nicely written, neat story, seemed to drag on a bit in the last 2/3rds.Published 4 days ago by Thor Albro
This was required reading for a college class but I would recommend it to anyone that has ever enjoyed an opera singer's haunting voice. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Comaburr
It's been a long time since I struggled with not being able to out a book down, but dreading getting to the end and having it be over. This was such a book.Published 6 days ago by Kelly
I loved everything but the last few pages. I suppose it's realistic, but I really wanted a different ending
Ann Patchett is an enchanting writer...love the way she writes....from the heat.Published 9 days ago by carolyn darke
I guess I am no literary expert, because most reviewers esteem this as Patchett's best work. It's not my favorite, although it was a great story, I felt "boxed in" being... Read morePublished 9 days ago by Cooper