Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

78%

20 Critic Reviews

The term bel canto can be translated as "beautiful singing," but in practice it refers to a style of vocal delivery marked by a smooth continuity of presentation and a controlled sustaining of the melodic phrases. Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto stands out for these same qualities.
-Blog Critics

Synopsis

“Blissfully Romantic….A strange, terrific, spellcasting story.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Bel Canto…should be on the list of every literate music lover. The story is riveting, the participants breathe and feel and are alive, and throughout this elegantly-told novel, music pours forth so splendidly that the reader hears it and is overwhelmed by its beauty.” —Lloyd Moss, WXQR

“Glorious.” —The New Yorker

Ann Pratchett’s award winning, New York Times bestselling Bel Canto balances themes of love and crisis as disparate characters learn that music is their only common language. As in Patchett’s other novels, including Truth & Beauty and The Magician’s Assistant, the author’s lyrical prose and lucid imagination make Bel Canto a captivating story of strength and frailty, love and imprisonment, and an inspiring tale of transcendent romance.

 

About Ann Patchett

See more books from this Author
Ann Patchett is the author of six novels and two books of nonfiction. She is the winner of the PEN/ Faulkner Award, England's Orange Prize, and the Book Sense Book of the Year. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages. She is the co-owner of Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee.
 
Published March 17, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 336 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Romance, Humor & Entertainment, Business & Economics, Action & Adventure, Horror, Cooking. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Bel Canto
All: 20 | Positive: 18 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Excellent
on May 20 2010

Each page is dense with incident, the smallest details magnified by the drama of the situation...In pellucid prose, Patchett grapples with issues of complexity and moral ambiguity that arise as confinement becomes not only a way of life but also for some, both hostage and hostage-taker, a life preferable to their previous existence.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Kirkus

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Clark on Jul 14 2001

At the start of the novel, Roxane is singing, at Mr Hosokawa's request...When the garua lifts, so must Roxane's spell, and then the novel will end. Whom the spirit of death alights upon is concealed until the penultimate chapter, and when it is revealed, the narrative returns to a shocking brutality.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Alex Clark on Jul 13 2001

If the bathetic conclusion of the epilogue disappoints, it is unsurprising but nonetheless lamentable. The house's bemused inmates are not alone in hoping that the spell would never end.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Guardian

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on Feb 03 2009

The term bel canto can be translated as "beautiful singing," but in practice it refers to a style of vocal delivery marked by a smooth continuity of presentation and a controlled sustaining of the melodic phrases. Ann Patchett's novel Bel Canto stands out for these same qualities.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Nuthatch on Mar 11 2006

There was really no satisfactory way to end this novel, and indeed the ending is abrupt and disappointing. I think it is a rare author that can write so elegantly as to completely overcome a thin plot and enthrall the reader. But Patchett accomplishes this feat, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by hcethatsme on Jun 28 2004

Enchanting, absorbing, touching–right up until the end, at which point I threw the book from me and burst into angry tears. Yes, I prefer happy endings...It’s the suddenness of the ending, and the way that we’re then excluded from the main character’s heads...

Read Full Review of Bel Canto | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Book Reporter

Above average
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on Jan 21 2011

The story tends to break down at some points under the weight of the characterizations in tandem with the hard-lined violence. However, none of it is gratuitous and, eventually, when a box of sheet music is found and sorted through, the story really begins to soar.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Entertainment Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Karen Valby on Jan 17 2015

Ostensibly the story of a months-long hostage crisis, Bel Canto is more a meditation on the unlikely allegiances that form in extreme circumstances...One approaches the final pages with a heavy heart for several reasons, not the least of which being that this fine read has come to an end.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Pajiba

Below average
Reviewed by Josie Brown on Mar 18 2009

For years, people have been suggesting this book to me, and now that I've finally read it, I'm left quite disappointed...It was trite and unfulfilling, and I'm concerned about what its popularity says about the general public's standard for good writing.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Open Letters Monthly

Good
Reviewed by Rohan Maitzen on Jun 27 2011

...the result of the epilogue for me was not the sustenance of hope but the bathos of anti-climax. That said, I carried Bel Canto around for several days after I finished it. I wanted to read parts of it again and again; I needed to think about it; and I was sorry it ended, sorry its dream was over.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Open Letters Monthly

Good
Reviewed by Rohan Maitzen on Jul 10 2008

Bel Canto is a beautiful, poignant, and fragile novel about the beauty, poignancy, and fragility of art and love. The simplicity of its narrative suits the underlying simplicity of its ideas...I carried Bel Canto around for several days after I finished it. I wanted to read parts of it again and again; I needed to think about it...

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Curled Up

Good
Reviewed by Amanda Cuda on Apr 01 2002

Though it’s obvious that there’s no possible way this can end well, Patchett’s characters – hostages and terrorists alike – are all so believably human that she still manages to create suspense...The result is a novel that will keep you compulsively turning pages throughout, and stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Quick Book Reviews

Above average
Reviewed by David Ben Efraim on Jun 08 2012

Ann Patchett manages to take an already-popular concept and make it new again, adding her own personal touch to it. While this may not necessarily cater to those who are expecting realistic plot developments and violence, I believe it will be perfect for people looking for a warm yet tense read.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

All the Books I Can Read

Above average
Reviewed by 1GIRL2MANYBOOKS on Aug 14 2010

This seems to be a common complaint of mine recently, but I adored this book right up until the ending. After about 300 pages detailing the hostage situation, the developing relationships between the rebels and the hostages in varying degrees, and the hostages with each other, the end is abrupt and stilted.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Fyrefly's Book Blog

Above average
Reviewed by Nicki on Apr 21 2008

For a novel that’s ostensibly about passion, I didn’t come out of it feeling particularly passionate about it one way or the other. Not a bad read, and I’m glad I did finally read it, but it’s not something I’ll go out of my way to recommend, either.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Reading on a Rainy Day

Excellent
Reviewed by Athira on Apr 12 2011

Bel Canto is an amazing Orange Prize winning novel written by Ann Patchett that shows a possible hostage situation...Ann Patchett's prose is so beautiful and descriptive that the reader does get to feel, see and hear everything. ...Overall, I'll say just pick up this book - read it!

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Book Rap

Above average
on May 30 2014

The book may be based on an event that happened at the home of the Japanese ambassador to Peru in 1996 but the issues here are clearly the imagination and the story that Ms. Patchett has chosen to tell...The novel has some twists and turns and is a beautiful well written story.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

My Friend Amy

Excellent
Reviewed by Amy on Dec 08 2011

The beauty of Bel Canto is that you're reading along and you're realizing all of these things with them, you're watching them build a brand new kind of life together and destroy the sorts of walls between them...I loved the book, the writing is beautiful and the story is a heartrending and gorgeous tale.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

The New Canon

Good
Reviewed by Ted Gioia on May 06 2015

Starting with a dramatic situation that almost every other writer would ornament with fisticuffs and high drama, Patchett finds and develops a luminescence and grace which she maintains for the duration of this artful and exquisite book. Beautiful singing, indeed.

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

http://chathamcommunitylibrary.com

Good
on Sep 06 2013

Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto engenders in the reader the very passion for art and the language of music that its characters discover. As a reader, you find yourself fervently wanting this captivity to continue forever...

Read Full Review of Bel Canto

Reader Rating for Bel Canto
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1730 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×