Edwards ( The Grimaldis of Monaco , LJ 8/92, among others) has written a new novel based loosely on the life of opera diva Maria Callas. Athena Varos emigrates from the United States with her Greek mother in 1939, traveling to Athens, where she receives her musical training and emerges as a promising singer with a magnificent voice. Although she cements here career through marriage to lawyer Roberto Vallobroso, a patron of opera who becomes Athena's manager, Athena is frustrated because the homosexual Roberto is uninterested in making love to her. When she meets Greek shipping tycoon Mano Zakarias (read Ari Onassis), they conduct a passionate love affair until he betrays her by marrying the widow of an American politician. As a detailed chronicle of the lives of the rich and famous, this quick-going and entertaining novel will be popular.-- Harriet Gottfried, NYPL
What a good idea--a novel based on the life of the great opera diva Maria Callas. There was so much drama in that woman's life, a novelist has only to worry about making sure a fictionalized version doesn't seem too overwrought. And in popular biographer Edwards' prolific but uncalloused (no pun intended) hands, there's no sense of the story being overdone. The main character is called Athena Varos here, and Edwards' take on events closely--and, perhaps more important, unsensationally--parallels the real ones. Edwards has a sensible understanding of her character's--and obviously Callas'--incentives, which motivated her not only to rise to great heights, but to do so through consummate artistry. Edwards follows Athena's initial steps as an opera singer (born in the U.S., Athena was taken as a teenager by her mother back to her family's homeland, Greece), her establishment in the operatic firmament by hard work in Italy, her problematic marriage, her affair with a Greek shipping magnate, and the celebrity that brought her name to the attention of a wider public than simply opera enthusiasts. And not only opera lovers will appreciate this felicitous--no, "striking"--fictional biography.