Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening — until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped.
"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."
— Entertainment Weekly (A-)
"Patchett doing what she does best — What gives this novel its power is Patchett's flair for sketching the subtleties of her characters' behavior."
— New York Times Book Review
"The most romantic novel in years. A strange, terrific, spellcasting story."
— San Francisco Chronicle
"Patchett's tragicomic novel — a fantasia of guns and Puccini and Red Cross negotiations — invokes the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics, and love."
— The New Yorker
"Bel Canto invites readers to explore new and unfamiliar territory, to take some emotional risks rather than stand with Rolland among those 'already saved.'"
— Chicago Tribune
"In more ways than one, Bel Canto is about finding beauty in unexpected places."
— New York magazine
"You'll find a few hours of entertainment and maybe even a strange yearning to be kidnapped."
— Time Out New York
"Elegantly alluring. . . . . A novel that begins with a kiss and absolutely deserves one."
— Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Bel Canto is certainly pleasurable to read."
"Thanks to Patchett's narrative know-how, readers won't want to let the novel go until they finish it."
— The San Diego Union-Tribune
"Bel Canto moves elegantly through its paces, captors and captivates alike stumble on that most elusive liberty: the freedom to be."
— New York Daily News
"A provocative and enchanting look at the power art has to suspend real life and to create a better world, one in which the differences between people can be erased and the barriers to our best selves can be hurdled."
— Detroit Free Press
"With the right soundtrack, with the right singer singing the right music, all battlefields can become utopias."
— The Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Blissfully romantic... with engaging wit and brilliant writing about love, Patchett has crafted a seductive, romantically charged novel . . . "
— San Fransisco Chronicle
— The Seattle Times
". . . . a novel that showcases her profound understanding of the heart."
"Bel Canto by Ann Patchett 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 spendidly that the reader hears it and is overwhelmed by its beauty. Ann Patchett is a special writer who has written a special book."
— Lloyd Moss, WXQR
"Bel Canto has all the qualities one has come to expect from a classic Ann Patchett novel: grace, beauty, elegance, and magic."
— Madison Smartt Bell
"Patchett's ability to evoke sense of place. . .is near magical in itself."
— Publishers Weekly
"Combining an unerring instinct for telling detail with the broader brushstrokes you need to tackle issues of culture and politics, Patchett creates a remarkably compelling chronicle of a multinational group of the rich and powerful held hostage for months. . . .Brilliant."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
National Book Critics Circle Award
Southeast Booksellers Assn. — fiction
IMPAC Dublin Literary Award shortlist
National Book Critics Circle Award