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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.
Wonderfully written and engaging characters. Didn't want the story to end.Published 12 hours ago by ronayne herbert
I have never written a review before, but my dislike of this book propelled me to do so now. I read this book as the book-of-the-month by our book club, having never heard of it... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Carol
This features a lyric soprano with a non credibly wide repertoire as she becomes a victim of terrorists attempting kidnap a county's president. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Gderf
I can see why some people don’t like this book — it starts with terrorists taking a large opera-loving dinner party hostage. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Mark
I only read about 100 pages. Just not my kind of read. Others in our book club enjoyed the book and the way it was researched and written. They read many more books than I do.Published 12 days ago by Roger A. Dogg
An interesting story showing how people, react in a hostage situation. The author develops the characters quite vividly and draws us into their situation. Read morePublished 12 days ago by Diana Brown
This book was recommended by a friend and I just knew I was going to love it. In fact, as I began to read the book I saw that several other friends loved the book also. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Lorrie