Bel Canto

by Ann Patchett

In Brief

A birthday party and an opera recital are held in the Vice-President's mansion in a poor South American country. Suddenly terrorists storm the mansion, seeking the President who isn't there. A long hostage siege commences, leavened by a soprano's beautiful voice and some surprising relationships. But however close terrorist and hostage may grow, there can be no happy outcome to this perilous stand-off.

Why you should read it

If ever a book showed the humanity behind a terrorist's gun, this is it. Music and fellow feeling flow in equal measure through this beautiful, devastating novel. Audacious dreams, timid love, impractical hope - all flourish in the unlikely setting of an enforced imprisonment. Bel Canto is desperately sad yet undeniably uplifting. A transformational experience.

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