An opera singer becomes a long-term hostage in a South American country bedeviled by terrorists. Removed from the outside world, hostages and captors gradually forge a life together that, surprisingly, contains its own satisfactions.
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.
"[A] novel that begins with a kiss and absolutely deserves one....[An] elegantly alluring book....One of the delightful things about the way BEL CANTO unfolds is the way Ann Patchett uses the ordeal of entrapment to locate unexpected resources in her characters...." New York Times - Janet Maslin (05/31/2001)
"Patchett's tragicomic novel...invokes the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics, and love." New Yorker (06/18/2001)
"It is essentially a novel about the power of music; also about the power of love, which is not quite the same thing, although related. In passing, it makes some acute observations about political and economic conditions in the third world. It has some vividly realized characters and a plot right out of contemporary headlines. It is well worth reading, despite a few episodes that strain credulity and small technical lapses that an editor should have caught." Washington Post Book World - Joseph McLellan (07/08/2001)