Bel Canto Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Bel Canto

Famous international businessmen and heads of state have gathered in a Latin American mansion to listen to the performance of Roxanne Coss, a world-renowned opera star. As Coss finishes her final aria, the building is overtaken by a band of revolutionary terrorists.
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In the ensuing four months in which they are held hostage, the prisoners form relationships with the terrorists (two of whom they are surprised to discover are young girls). These relationships and the beauty of Coss' singing begin to make hostage and terrorist alike feel glad for the time they are trapped together.

Coss develops a love affair with the head of a Japanese electronics company; a translator falls in love with a terrorist. Hostage and terrorist begin to learn from each other and play with one another.

The terrorists begin to learn that they are more than who they believed themselves to be. They learn new languages. They learn to cook and to sing, to play games and to garden.

Eventually, the lines between hostage and terrorist blur entirely until no one wants this time together to end and they fear the outside world more than they fear one another.
The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Martin-Romme

In an unnamed South American country, opera singer Roxanne Coss peforms at the vice-president's mansion. It is the birthday of a wealthy Japanese businessman, Katsumi Hosokawa, and the vice-president throws a party in Hosokawa's honor, hoping that he will bring business and investments to the country. Hosokawa is uninterested in the country however, and only attends the party because he is a fan of Roxanne Coss.

During the party, terrorists take over the mansion and keep the party-goers hostage. The terrorists are lead by a few older men, but most of them are very young, teens to early twenties. The terrorists hoped to capture the country's president, but he was unable to attend the party because he stayed home to watch his favorite soap-opera.

All of the female hostages are released except for Roxanne. A stand-off between the terrorists and the government occurs, and the hostages and terrorists are forced to stay in the mansion for months. To relieve the boredom and to keep her voice in top form, Roxanne practices every day. Romance blossoms between Roxanne and Katsumi Hosokawa, and between Gen, Hosokawa's translator, and Carmen, one of the young terrorists.
The review of this Book prepared by E. J. McDonald

Chapter Analysis of Bel Canto

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1980's-1999 Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book War/Revolt/Disaster on civilians    -   Yes Conflict:    -   Revolution, general

Main Character

Gender    -   Female Profession/status:    -   actor/actress/producer    -   musician Age:    -   20's-30's Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   3 () The Americas (not US):    -   Yes The Americas:    -   South Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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Ann Patchett Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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