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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

Title: The Doctor & the Diva
Author: Adrienne McDonnell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Sphere, 2010
Rating: 4 Crowns

Based in part on the true story of the author's son's great-great grandmother and inspired by many family letters and memories of elderly relatives The Doctor & the Diva is a multi-layered, multi-textured historical novel that makes engrossing reading. It begins in...

1903 - BOSTON - Dr Ravell is a young obstetrician whose reputation for helping couples conceive has made him a rising star. His patients include women from all walks of Boston society, but he is flattered when a family of illustrious physicians turn to him to treat one of their own family. Peter and Erika von Kessler have struggled for years to become pregnant but while Peter's desire for a child remains strong, Erika is beginning to yearn for something else. She is a very gifted opera singer , recognised within the restricted confines of Boston, but longing to go to Italy to study.This first part of the book provides a fascinating look at a women's expected role in Boston society and gynaecology and fertility treatments of this era - I didn't realise it was available then.Eventually circumstances send Dr Ravell off to....

TRINIDAD - the land of the hummingbird where he takes on the management of a coconut plantation and Erika and Peter will visit to continue the fertility treatments. It is now that the author's writing skill becomes evident as the frigid wintery Boston gives way to the lush sensuousness of the island. One can almost hear the birdsong and smell the flowers.

Erika and Peter have a son but five years of motherhood brings Erika the realisation she cannot have everything and she has to make a choice..........she follows her dream to....

FLORENCE where she immerses herself in studying and training to appear on the opera stage. The price is high, the divorce laws were not kind to mothers who abandoned their children.

It is a 'love triangle' story with three wonderfully developed central characters who are not always likeable but their obvious flaws, their selfishness and seemingly wrong decisions, make them very human. It's a book that explores many issues, particularly for women, love, marriage, divorce , fertility and the age old conflict between family and personal fulfilment. But what I liked best was that it left me wanting to know more about so much. Trinidad, the birds , butterflies and coconut plantations.......Florence ,to listen to the arias that Ericka sings, and to read more about the medical history of the time. That, for me, is the sign of a very good book.

Beautifully written, a wealth of rich detail - excellent historical fiction - I loved it!

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Sharon said...

That sounds like a good read, it is a new to me book.

Mystica said...

This sounds very interesting. Thanks for the post.

Cat said...

I enjoyed it very much - hope you will too.