It is 1903. Dr. Ravell is a young Harvard-educated obstetrician with a growing reputation for helping couples conceive. He has treated women from all walks of Boston society, but when Ravell meets Erika - an opera singer whose beauty is surpassed only by her spellbinding voice - he knows their doctor-patient relationship will be like none he has ever had.
After struggling for years to become pregnant, Erika believes there is no hope. Her mind is made up: she will leave her prominent Bostonian husband to pursue her career in Italy, a plan both unconventional and risky. But becoming Ravell's patient will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.
Lush and stunningly realized, The Doctor and the Diva moves from snowy Boston to the jungles of Trinidad to the gilded balconies of Florence. This magnificent debut is a tale of passionate love affairs, dangerous decisions, and a woman's irreconcilable desires as she is forced to choose between the child she has always longed for and the opera career she cannot live without. Inspired by the author's family history, the novel is sensual, sexy, and heart-stopping in its bittersweet beauty.
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"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.... These three people give themselves over to their passions. They smell every perfume, every last flower, every last drop of human sweat.... We forget it all too often, but the world offers us immeasurable enchantment -- if only we keep our eyes open, our ears alert, and remember to inhale.... [a] brilliant debut novel...." - The Washington Post
"In her book-club friendly debut, McDonnell weaves the intriguing tale of an early 20th-century opera singer torn between her career and motherhood.... A twisting tale of miscommunication, love, and unrealized dreams." - Publishers Weekly
"Great storytelling and a very modern heroine ... The Doctor and the Diva has the makings of a big success." - Gail Godwin, author of Unfinished Desires and A Mother and Two Daughters
"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
"I don't know when I have been so completely entranced and held spellbound by a novel. Brilliant and beautifully written ... McDonnell is a masterful storyteller.... This is a major accomplishment and marks the debut of a tremendous talent." - Jill McCorkle, author of Going Away Shoes
"The Doctor and the Diva is an incredibly moving tale of passion, regret, and ultimate triumph.... 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
"... From the moment we first meet Erika von Kessler, singing beside her uncle's grave, she casts a spell.... Richly imagined ... The Doctor and the Diva is an irresistible debut." - Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street
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Adrienne McDonnell has taught literature and fiction writing at the University of California, Berkeley. She based The Doctor and the Diva, her first novel, on the true story of an ancestor - a woman who deserted her wealthy husband and child to further her operatic career. The author relied on a trove of family letters and memories of elderly relatives who have long been haunted by the tale. She lives near San Francisco and can be found online at www.adriennemcdonnell.com
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