The Doctor and the Diva Summary and Reviews

The Doctor and the Diva

A Novel

by Adrienne McDonnell

The Doctor and the Diva

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About this book

Book Summary

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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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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

The information about The Doctor and the Diva shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Dorothy T. (Victorville, CA)

Brilliant!
There are many elements in this novel that ring of truth. The story is believable and well-paced, right down to a climax that led me to almost shout aloud, "No! It can't happen like this!" The descriptions of what it feels like to release the music inside—to sing well—are so true that the author has to have felt that herself, but how did she find the right words? The overriding truth of this novel, though, is that all of us make choices that, no matter what the motivation, force us to face consequences we may not have anticipated.

I think this novel would be a great book club selection and is for anyone who loves music and/or travel to a tropical paradise or Italy at the turn of the 20th century.

Jill S. (Eagle, ID)

The Docotr and the Diva
This book captivated me from the start. It is an easy and engaging read. The issues tackled in the book--fertility, career and love are timeless. Although some of the transitions are choppy, the characters are believable and well developed. This book would be great for any bookclub discussion.

Cam G. (Murrells Inlet, SC)

THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA
The Doctor and the Diva, Adrienne McDonnell's first novel, is a wonderful read from start to finish. It is inspired by the life of the author's son's paternal great great grandmother who deserted her husband and son to further her career as an operatic singer. This book is about obsessions:her unfailing attempt to bear a child, to fulfill her dream to to go to Italy and become a singer, and the love she had for a man, a well-known fertility doctor who is in charge of her care. We learn about the early beginnings of fertility treatment, we discover the beauty of the places she traveled by McDonnell's beautiful descriptions...all this in a book that will undoubtedly draw you in until the final page.

Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)

Wonderful book!
An excellent read! The author described locations so beautifully I felt as if I was in Trinidad and Italy. It was interesting to read about the early treatment of infertility. I felt Erika's pain about not having a baby and but wanting a baby so bad she put her own passion of singing on hold. Erika's and Ravell's love story was so tender you want them to be together.

The book was an easy read and I loved every page.

Mary J. (Scottsdale, AZ)

A Rich and Full Story
The Doctor and The Diva is a well written and fully developed story with great details. It is a book that once you start reading it, you can't put it down. It is full of twists and turns and had me from the first page. It is a must read. You will fall in love with the characters and will be sad to finish the story.

Mary O. (Boston, MA)

a perfect diva
The Doctor and the Diva captured my interest from the start. It is a book that is hard to put down and a perfect page turning "summer beach read". The twists and turns all point to how passion drives the soul. You feel like you are a world traveler embracing each character's life and journey. A great read!

...14 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

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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