The Doctor and the Diva: A Novel

( 28 )

Overview

Inspired by a true story—a breathtaking novel of romantic obsession, longing, and one woman's choice between motherhood and her operatic career calling

It is 1903, and Erika von Kessler has struggled for years to become pregnant. Resigned to childlessness, Erika—a talented opera singer and the wife of a prominent Boston businessman—secretly plans to move to Italy to pursue her musical career. The charismatic Doctor Ravell is a rising fertility specialist. When Erika becomes his ...

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The Doctor and the Diva: A Novel

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Overview

Inspired by a true story—a breathtaking novel of romantic obsession, longing, and one woman's choice between motherhood and her operatic career calling

It is 1903, and Erika von Kessler has struggled for years to become pregnant. Resigned to childlessness, Erika—a talented opera singer and the wife of a prominent Boston businessman—secretly plans to move to Italy to pursue her musical career. The charismatic Doctor Ravell is a rising fertility specialist. When Erika becomes his patient, he is mesmerized by her elegance and extraordinary voice—and finds himself taking an impetuous risk that could ruin them both.

Stunningly realized and inspired by Adrienne McDonnell’s own family history, The Doctor and the Diva moves from snowy Boston to the tropical forests of the Caribbean to the gilded balconies of Florence.  It is searing historical fiction—a tale of opera, the indomitable power of romantic obsession, and a woman’s irreconcilable desires as she is forced to choose between the child she has always yearned for and the artistic career she cannot live without.  Fans of Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto and Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank will be moved by this novel’s bittersweet beauty.

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Editorial Reviews

Carolyn See
Some novels just naturally enslave you, and this is one of them…The effectiveness of the narrative comes from the novelist's striking skill. From the very first pages, we are utterly engaged in what's going to happen to these three people—they become as close to us as family friends. Each has legitimate ambitions and dreams; each is capable of acting with astonishing selfishness and self-interest.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In her book-club friendly debut, McDonnell weaves the intriguing tale of an early 20th-century opera singer torn between her career and motherhood. Erika von Kessler, a mezzo-soprano of some regard, and her husband, Peter Myrick, have been trying without success to conceive a child for all six years of their marriage. They seek out the expertise of Dr. Ravell, a Boston obstetrician renowned for his fertility successes. Ravell, mesmerized by Erika’s beauty and talent, vows to do anything to help the couple realize their dream of children, even if it means deceiving them, which, of course, it does. Meanwhile, Erika isn’t so sure about her desire for motherhood and secretly makes plans to leave her husband and pursue fame in Italy. McDonnell bases the story on her family history and expertly incorporates surprising facts about the history of fertility research into a twisting tale of miscommunication, love, and unrealized dreams. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143119302
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/25/2011
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 821,245
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Adrienne McDonnell

Adrienne McDonnell has taught literature and fiction writing at the University of California, Berkeley. The Doctor and the Diva is based in part on the true story of her son’s great-great grandmother. McDonnell was inspired by hundreds of pages of family letters and memories of elderly relatives, long haunted by the story. Chosen by the American Booksellers Association as an Indie Next Notable Book, rights to the The Doctor and the Diva have sold in ten countries. McDonnell lives near San Francisco. The Doctor and the Diva is her first novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 28 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(6)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2010

    Fabulous Novel - Hard to Put Down

    What a great read - such an amazing story. It is so well written. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Okay

    I expected a little more than I got from this book. Overall the story was decent if you're looking for a good drama. The love triangles and turn of events were extremely unique, though I felt the story get a little slow in some areas.

    I was looking forward to learning more about the history of obstetrics. The original description of the novel made it seem like that would be the main focus of the story. Instead there was only a little bit of obstetric history, and a great deal more about the "diva's" story (which was less interesting in my opinion). Regardless of whether or not you finish the book once you start, my advice is to at least read the historical note in the back. Those last couple of pages were the most interesting, even if they were not part of the story.

    Overall, I'm not sorry I read the book. I did enjoy the time I spent with it, even if it wasn't what I expected.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 20, 2012

    Check it out

    I enjoyed the story, but didn't like the ending. I am glad I read it, but the end fizzled for me. Check it out, maybe it was just me!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2011

    A rare treat

    Such a beautiful book. Just sucks you in.

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  • Posted September 14, 2010

    Intriguing Story

    The author has done extensive research on the places, era and characters in this fascinating tale of her first husband's ancestors. The doctor is renowned for his successful fertility treatments. Determined that they will have a family, the diva's husband seeks the doctors help when it becomes evident that there is a problem.Unforeseen events unfold as a result.Shocking decisions are made. The reader is taken on an emotional and an actual journey as the characters pursue their desires from Boston to Trinidad, Florence and Egypt. This is an engrossing read. Highly recommended for book clubs.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 27, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A dash of Intrigue and Scandal

    This book was a great read!
    From the very beginning, it pulled you in with a mouth dropping scandal that I shouted out loud as I read it, "OH MY GOD".

    The Doctor & the Diva is everything it promises to be, and when you learn of the research that went into it, it pulls you in even more.

    The two things that would have made me give a better rating:
    -Spicier love scenes. I felt this was a romantic tale, and I wanted to be drawn in more to the fantasy aspect of it.
    -At times I felt there were filler scenes that were not necessary, and it dragged on a little.

    Over all, it was a great debut book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2012

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    Posted July 29, 2010

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    Posted July 10, 2011

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    Posted June 7, 2011

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    Posted August 3, 2010

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    Posted August 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2011

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    Posted January 30, 2011

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    Posted August 31, 2010

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    Posted December 31, 2010

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    Posted August 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2011

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    Posted May 31, 2011

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    Posted October 15, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 28 Customer Reviews

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