The Doctor and the Diva: A Novel

The Doctor and the Diva: A Novel

3.2 28
by Adrienne McDonnell
     
 

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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

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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

From the Publisher
“Some novels just naturally enslave you, and this is one of them. . . . Serious and gripping . . . [a] brilliant debut novel.”
The Washington Post

“Desire has a dangerous side, a fact this sumptuous novel delights in . . . [An] explosive tale. Read the book now, then place bets on when the movie version will come out.”
Redbook

“The tugs of work and family propel this engrossing tale.”
Good Housekeeping (Book Pick)

“This amazing debut novel . . . is, quite simply, one of the best novels I’ve read all year.”
The Historical Novels Review (Editor’s Choice)

The Doctor and the Diva is so beautifully written and lushly set it was impossible for me to put down, and the characters continue to haunt me long after I turned the last page.”
Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House

“An incredibly moving tale of passion, regret, and ultimate triumph. I loved it. Adrienne McDonnell has created some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever met. A superb achievement.”
Julie Garwood, bestselling author of Hotshot

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 Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/25/2011
Pages:
432
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.46(h) x 0.94(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Lauren Belfer
Filled with frank sexuality and astonishing emotional intimacy, The Doctor And The Diva pulls you in and doesn't let go. This haunting and heartbreaking novel flows seamlessly from the medical consulting rooms of Boston to the opera stages of Italy and to the lush plantations of the Caribbean, sweeping you into a riveting story of complex individuals struggling with multi-layered passions and unflagging dreams. (Lauren Belfer, author of City of Light and A Fierce Radiance)
Margot Livesey
Adrienne McDonnell has created a wonderful portrait of a talented and ambitious woman who also aspires to be a wife, a mother and a lover. From the moment we first meet Erika von Kessler, singing beside her uncle's grave, she casts a spell and one of the deep satisfactions of this richly imagined novel is that both her lover and her husband prove worthy of her. The Doctor And The Diva is an irresistible debut. (Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street)
Julie Garwood
The Doctor And The Diva is an incredibly moving tale of passion, regret, and ultimate triumph. I loved it. Adrienne McDonnell has created some of the most memorable characters I've ever met. A superb achievement. (Julie Garwood, bestselling author of Sizzle and Fire and Ice)
Andrea Barrett
Love, the longing for family, the demands of art—in Adrienne McDonnell's absorbing debut, the life of a tempestuous diva struggling to reconcile conflicting desires itself becomes a kind of opera. (Andrea Barrett, author of Ship Fever and The Air We Breathe)
Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Doctor And The Diva, based on old family letters, takes us on a fascinating journey into the hearts and minds of a woman and a man who commit the unthinkable. Brace yourself for the vortex of their deftly drawn lives. (Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of The Day the Falls Stood Still)
From the Publisher
“Some novels just naturally enslave you, and this is one of them. . . . Serious and gripping . . . [a] brilliant debut novel.”
The Washington Post

“Desire has a dangerous side, a fact this sumptuous novel delights in . . . [An] explosive tale. Read the book now, then place bets on when the movie version will come out.”
Redbook

“The tugs of work and family propel this engrossing tale.”
Good Housekeeping (Book Pick)

“This amazing debut novel . . . is, quite simply, one of the best novels I’ve read all year.”
The Historical Novels Review (Editor’s Choice)

The Doctor and the Diva is so beautifully written and lushly set it was impossible for me to put down, and the characters continue to haunt me long after I turned the last page.”
Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants and Ape House

“An incredibly moving tale of passion, regret, and ultimate triumph. I loved it. Adrienne McDonnell has created some of the most memorable characters I’ve ever met. A superb achievement.”
Julie Garwood, bestselling author of Hotshot

Gail Godwin
Great storytelling and a very modern heroine—who just happens to be living in an era when women didn't dare admit to wanting it all, much less expect to get it. The Doctor And The Diva has the makings of a big success. (Gail Godwin, author of Unfinished Desires and A Mother and Two Daughters)
Anne Bernays
It's very refreshing to read a serious novel whose author had been anointed with the gift of genuine story-telling. Adrienne McDonnell's The Doctor And The Diva takes her readers into strange and forbidden places, exotic countries and, best of all, the territory of the heart at its most naked and terrifying. (Anne Bernays, author of Trophy House)
Jill McCorkle
I don't know when I have been so completely entranced and held spellbound by a novel. The Doctor And The Diva is a brilliant, beautifully written story about the passions—career, romance, parenthood—that both unite and destroy lives. McDonnell is a masterful storyteller and an astute historian. This is a major accomplishment and marks the debut of a tremendous talent. (Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes)
Sara Gruen
The Doctor And The Diva is so beautifully written and lushly set it was impossible for me to put down, and the characters continue to haunt me long after I turned the last page(Sara Gruen, bestselling author of Water for Elephants and the forthcoming Ape House)

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