The Bel Canto Party Is Here!!! Come One, Come All!!!

Welcome!  Welcome!  Come on in, the door is open wide and you are invited to come in.  May I take your coat?  The champagne is to the left and waiters are about with tasty hor duerves.  Be sure to head into the main lounge before too long as the party is about to begin.

I am very excited about chatting up Bel Canto with all of you.  If you read it for the read a long (YAY!) or you read it some time ago, you are welcome to join in the fun and conversation that is happening here today.

Bel Canto comes from a term meaning “beautiful singing” and is an opera term.  Bel Canto has won many awards including The Orange Prize for fiction, Faulkner Award and Amazons Best Books Of The Year Award in 2001.

Here are some questions to ponder for the discussion…

1.  What makes Bel Canto Work?  What is it about this book that draws you in and makes you imagine what if… and what would you do.


2.  If Ann Patchett’s book feasible – could this really ever happen.  Why or why not?


3.  What do you think is the authors motive for writing this story?


4.  What does Roxanne Cross bring to the book?  Why is her character so central?


5.  Was anyone to blame for what happened when the party was taken over and everyone became hostages?  What precautions were missing?


6.  Did you like the way the story was told, a narration of someone looking back and telling of past events.  Would it have been better told from a present perspective – why or why not?


7.  Would you recommend Bel Canto to others?  Why or why not.



Feel free to respond to any or all of the above questions and add your own thoughts and questions as well.   A linky has been set up for those who have also reviewed the book so please add your review to the link provided.  Those who link their reviews of this book will receive an entry for a couple of Bel Canto party giveaways – relevant comments on this post that add to the discussion will receive one entry per relevant comment.  I will announce winner on Tuesday morning.

The giveaways for this post are as follows:


Prima Bel Canto Fabric Flowers (set of 6)



A new copy of Ann Patchett’s book RUN


Link your reviews here:

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24 thoughts on “The Bel Canto Party Is Here!!! Come One, Come All!!!

  1. Question 2 startled me as it doesn’t occur to me to ask if an author’s story is feasible in our own reality any more than I would divide 4 with 4 to get the answer to 4×4. The only feasibility that matters in any story–to my mind–is that contained within the story’s world as delineated by the author. In the case of Bel Canto I’m convinced to the same extent Father Arguedas is of the love of God by the sound of Roxane’s voice singing Ave Maria during his Mass.

    I confess I am saying that while yet some dozens of pages from finishing as my eyes have given out and are insisting on a nap before continuing. But for me each and every character lives and breathes and so far there has not been a single sour note.

    1. I don’t agree that it doesn’t matter if the story is feasible to the reader. It’s one thing if a story is meant to be a fantasy. Then I willingly suspend disbelief. But that’s not the case with this book.

      If, as you say, “The only feasibility that matters in any story–to my mind–is that contained within the story’s world as delineated by the author,” then the author could have written that, when the general shot the accopaniest, even though he was already dead, he bled all over the place. Even though we know that dead people don’t bleed, the author says so, and we should accept it.

  2. I won this book some time ago (on World Book Night), and now will be the perfect time to read it. I have to hurry and finish A THOUSAND CUTS so I can read BEL CANTO .

  3. I read this book a few years ago for my book club. We all loved it except for the epilogue. Of course, being Italian, I loved that it explores the love of opera too. I played my opera songs on CD after reading the book.

  4. I made time yesterday for nothing but reading BEL CANTO. I’ve never read Ann Patchet before and am so pleased with her writing! And guess what I discovered? She signed my copy of the book. I didn’t realize this when I won it.

  5. I’ve read only half the book so far, but I have an important question: Was this book written before or after 9/11? I realize it was written in 2001, but what month?

    I ask because, knowing what I know now, Patchet’s treatment of terrorists sounds ignorant. But if I read this before 9/11, I’d either think nothing of it or, at the most, I’d think her naive.

  6. Something else I want to ask, Sheila: I always review books I read. But I don’t have a blog. I just post my review to various Web sites such as,, and But two of those sites require a password to get in, and Amazon posts many reviews on the same page.

    So how should I do this? Should I just post my review here? My reviews usually aren’t as long as a blogger review.

      1. Leslie, thank you. I didn’t know it was that easy.

        By the way, I read your review. It’s excellelnlt. I haven’t finished the book so haven’t written a review yet. Do I need to post one by today?

    1. HI, sorry about my delay here… life is busy and crazy and well… new book shelves…LOL Certainly feel free to post your review here, I am enjoying your comments – you could also post to good reads and leave your link here if you would like 🙂

  7. [I’m a little late to the party too. One of my rare busy weeks.]

    If Ann Patchett’s book feasible – could this really ever happen.
    I thought I’d heard this novel was based on a true story. While it’s a little difficult to believe, I suppose anything is possible. One of the problems I had with the book was that I couldn’t relate to the characters. As their relationships developed, I wasn’t feeling the connections. For me, I’d want to get out of there and would be obsessed with leaving! They seemed quite content to stay there forever, which is not very believable.

    1. I question whether terrorists should be made to seem so sympathetic. Patchett is constantly reminding the reader how poor they are, how they’ve never seen a t.v., how they’re just children, etc. They’re called “terrorists” because they incite terror. What’s nice about that?

      It all sounds very naive to me. This is what she’d like to believe.

  8. Did you like the way the story was told, a narration of someone looking back and telling of past events.
    I didn’t think about this until I was finished with the book. That’s when I started wondering what each of the characters was feeling, what they were thinking. I know what I was thinking but I was trying to relate to them and couldn’t. Maybe it would have been better if it were told from several perspectives.

    1. I thought about this within the first two or three pages. I love Patchett’s writing! Even when the story gets dull, I still want to read it because of the way she tells it.

  9. Would you recommend Bel Canto to others?
    Depending on the person, yes I would. It’s not for everyone. There isn’t a lot of action, and I was expecting a little more rebellion on the part of the hostages. It’s a more contemplative read, and a good book for discussion, but not for some quick entertainment. (Maybe I read too many books with characters like Lee Child’s Reacher)

    1. I agree completely with Leslie’s comment. I’d recommend it with reservations. The writing is great; the story not so much.

  10. What makes Bel Canto Work? What is it about this book that draws you in and makes you imagine what if… and what would you do.

    The excellent writing draws me in. I can imagine “what if” only if I picture myself with real terrorists, the kind that deliberately kill, no negotiation. These imaginary terrorists aren’t real.

  11. I finished reading BEL CANTO last night. Here’s my review.

    BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett sounds promising at first. Patchett writes beautifully, leading her reader to believe that her description of a large, formal birthday party held at the home of the vice president of some South American country is the beginning of an engrossing story.

    When terrorists interrupt the party, though, fantasy begins. It’s not so bad being a hostage in PIatchett’s story. Over the several weeks that the terrorists keep their hostages in the vice president’s home, some of them, both terrorists and hostages, even feel they were never happier. What follows, then, are monotonous, unrealistic, even ridiculous descriptions of hostages’ friendly relations with terrorists. Patchett’s terrorists are sympathetic. They are poor, deprived people who don’t want to hurt anyone.

    Patchett may have been trying to describe a real psychological phenomonun, hostages who end up caring for their captors, a type of Stockholm syndrome (capture-bonding). These feelings are understood to be irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.

    There IS risk for these victims; their captors walk around all day with guns. But it’s easy to forget with all the soap-opera-like daily life going on in this house. Maybe Patchett wants the reader, as well as the hostages, to mistake a lack of abuse from the captors for an act of kindness. It is hard to tell whether this is Patchett’s intention.

    BEL CANTO was published in 2001. It won many awards. Because I was not impressed with this book, I’m suspicious of how this came to be.

    I won BEL CANTO from the publisher on World Book Night, an annual happening (every April 23) when a million books, 30 titles donated by publishers and booksellers, are given away.

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