It's Raining Books Sale
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?



My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »
  1. $16.77 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

    Love Me Back

    Merritt Tierce 9780385538077

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$3.50
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
1 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

Bel Canto: A Novel

by

Bel Canto: A Novel Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One
When the lights went off the accompanist kissed her. Maybe he had been turning towards her just before it was completely dark, maybe he was lifting his hands. There must have been some movement, a gesture, because every person in the living room would later remember a kiss. They did not see a kiss, that would have been impossible. The darkness that came on them was startling and complete. Not only was everyone there certain of a kiss, they claimed they could identify the type of kiss: it was strong and passionate, and it took her by surprise. They were all looking right at her when the lights went out. They were still applauding, each on his or her feet, still in the fullest throes of hands slapping together, elbows up. Not one person had come anywhere close to tiring. The Italians and the French were yelling, "Brava! Brava!" and the Japanese turned away from them. Would he have kissed her like that had the room been lit? Was his mind so full of her that in the very instant of darkness he reached for her, did he think so quickly? Or was it that they wanted her too, all of the men and women in the room, and so they imagined it collectively. They were so taken by the beauty of her voice that they wanted to cover her mouth with their mouth, drink in. Maybe music could be transferred, devoured, owned. What would it mean to kiss the lips that had held such a sound?

Some of them had loved her for years. They had every recording she had ever made. They kept a notebook and wrote down every place they had seen her, listing the music, the names of the cast, the conductor. There were others there that night who had not heard her name, who would have said, if asked, that opera was a collection of nonsensical cat screechings, that they would much rather pass three hours in a dentist's chair. These were the ones who wept openly now, the ones who had been so mistaken.

No one was frightened of the darkness. They barely noticed. They kept applauding. The people who lived in other countries assumed that things like this must happen here all the time. Lights go on, go off. People from the host country knew it to be true. Besides, the timing of the electrical failure seemed dramatic and perfectly correct, as if the lights had said, You have no need for sight. Listen. What no one stopped to think about was why the candles on every table went out as well, perhaps at that very moment or the moment before. The room was filled with the pleasant smell of candles just snuffed, a smoke that was sweet and wholly unthreatening. A smell that meant it was late now, time to go to bed.

They continued the applause. They assumed she continued her kiss.

Roxane Coss, lyric soprano, was the only reason Mr. Hosokawa had come to this country. Mr. Hosokawa was the reason everyone else had come to the party. It was not the kind of place one was likely to visit. The reason the host country (a poor country) was throwing a birthday party of unreasonable expense for a foreigner who had to be all but bribed into attending was that this foreigner was the founder and chairman of Nansei, the largest electronics corporation in Japan. It was the fondest wish of the host country that Mr. Hosokawa would smile on them, help them in some of the hundred different ways they needed helping. That could be achieved through training or trade. A factory (and this was the dream so dear its name could hardly be spoken) could be built here, where cheap labor could mean a profit for everyone involved. Industry could move the economy away from the farming of coca leaves and blackhearted poppies, creating the illusion of a country moving away from the base matter of cocaine and heroin, so as to promote foreign aid and make trafficking of those very drugs less conspicuous. But the plan had never taken root in the past, as the Japanese, by nature, erred on the side of caution. They believed in the danger and the rumors of danger countries such as this presented, so to have Mr. Hosokawa himself, not an executive vice president, not a politician, come and sit at the table was proof that a hand might be extended. And maybe that hand would have to be coaxed and begged. Maybe it would have to be pulled from its own deep pocket. But this visit, with its glorious birthday dinner replete with opera star, with several meetings planned and trips to possible factory sites tomorrow, was a full world closer than they had ever come before and the air in the room was sugared with promise. Representatives from more than a dozen countries who had been misled as to the nature of Mr. Hosokawa's intentions were present at the party, investors and ambassadors who might not encourage their governments to put a dime into the host country but would certainly support Nansei's every endeavor, now circled the room in black tie and evening gown, making toasts and laughing.

As far as Mr. Hosokawa was concerned, his trip was not for the purposes of business, diplomacy, or a friendship with the President, as later would be reported. Mr. Hosokawa disliked travel and did not know the President. He had made his intentions, or lack of intentions, abundantly clear. He did not plan to build a plant. He would never have agreed to a trip to a strange country to celebrate his birthday with people he did not know. He was not much for celebrating his birthday with people he did know, and certainly not his fifty-third, which he considered to be a number entirely without note.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 20 comments:

LAB, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by LAB)
Bel Canto is a great book. The characters are interesting, well developed and unique. The story is easy to get into and stays with you. I'm not sure that the epilogue was necessary (and I think the book would be slightly improved without it), but it did not detract overall from an excellent read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Howling Fantods, January 7, 2013 (view all comments by Howling Fantods)
This is, by far, the best book I read in 2012. Upon reading the last sentence, I wanted to turn back to the first page & start it all over again.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Jennifer Balke, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jennifer Balke)
Wow, what an incredible story! I've heard people talk about this book for years, and now I know why.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 20 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060934415
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Patchett, Ann
Publisher:
Perennial
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
South America
Subject:
Opera
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Victims of terrorism
Subject:
Women singers
Subject:
Hostages
Subject:
Embassy buildings
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Series Volume:
537
Publication Date:
June 4, 2002
Binding:
Paperback
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
7.98x5.34x.81 in. .66 lbs.

Other books you might like

  1. Empire Falls: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $1.95
  2. The Magician's Assistant
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  3. The Giant's House: A Romance Used Trade Paper $2.95
  4. The Magician's Assistant
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  5. Digging to America
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  6. The Secret Life of Bees Used Hardcover $4.95

Related Subjects


Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Adventure
Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

Bel Canto: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS - English 9780060934415 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "There are quite a few improbable aspects to Bel Canto, but the handful of times when I found my head popping above the surface of Patchett's novel to catch a quick lungful of realism — is it really possible that among a group of 57 assorted men there wouldn't be one opera hater or homosexual? — I was promptly sucked back under the surface by the book's bewitching undertow. This is a story of passionate, doomed love; of the glory of art; of the triumph of our shared humanity over the forces that divide us, and a couple of other unbearably cheesy themes, and yet Patchett makes it work, completely." (click here to read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review" by , "Bel Canto has all the qualities one has come to expect from a classic Ann Patchett novel: grace, beauty, elegance, and magic."
"Review" by , "Patchett creates a remarkably compelling chronicle of a multinational group of the rich and powerful held hostage for months....Readers may intellectually reject the author's willingness to embrace the terrorists' humanity, but only the hardest heart will not succumb....Brilliant."
"Review" by , "Let me put this plainly: Ann Patchett has written the best book I've read in a long, long time. Bel Canto is a masterpiece true to its title, a beautiful song, a broad, bold entirely original love story destined to become an international classic. This is the book we all wait for, the one we thrust into the hands of friends, saying, 'You've got to read this! You've got to read this now!'"
"Review" by , "Patchett's tragicomic novel — a fantasia of guns and Puccini and Red Cross negotiations — invokes the glorious, unreliable promises of art, politics, and love. Against this grand backdrop, the smallest gestures bloom with meaning."
"Review" by , "[An] elegantly alluring book....Although this novel is entirely housebound, at the vice presidential mansion, Ms. Patchett works wonders to avoid any sense of claustrophobia and keeps the place fresh at every turn."
"Review" by , "Ann Patchett's latest novel sneaks up so stealthily on the reader that before you know it, you've already skipped a meal or missed your meeting....The power and majesty of music, the power and acceptability of good writing. It's all there in Ann Patchett's Bel Canto."
"Synopsis" by , From the bestselling author of The Magician's Assistant comes a marvelous novel of love, opera, and terrorism set in South America. Two couples, complete opposites, fall in love; sexual identities become confused; and a horrific imprisonment is transformed into an unexpected heaven on earth.
"Synopsis" by , 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.
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.