Monday, October 25, 2010

The Doctor and the Diva, by Adrienne McDonnell

The Doctor and the Diva: A NovelErika von Kessler is an up and coming singer on the Boston Opera scene in the early 1900s.  She longs to move to Italy, to launch an international career; her husband, however, longs to start a family.  After several years without pregnancy, they begin to see specialists, until they are referred to the beloved Dr. Ravell, notorious for success among couples struggling to conceive.  When Ravell secretly discovers the husbands sterility, he takes drastic measures to insure the couple conceives, only to see the baby be stillborn.  Following this tragedy, scandal chases him from Boston, and the couple later follow him to Trinidad to have him once again help them conceive.  The results of that trip will forever alter the lives of so many people, including several innocent children.

What a lush, gorgeous novel this was.  A read can tell when a book is written out of love and passion, as this one so obviously was.  The jacket notes indicate that aspects of the story were based on some family letters and history, and I think McDonnell truly made the story come alive.  While the book was quite long, spanning several years and various locations, each time and place setting was described in perfect detail, so that it truly came alive in my mind.

I loved the characters of Erika and Ravell, and seeing how this situation impacted their lives, each without the others knowledge.  It was interesting to see how infertility was handled in this time period, and to know that some doctors were truly using cutting edge technology, even then.  I found the topics quite interesting and unusual.

The language is rich and decadent at times, but I loved every minute of it.  For once, I found myself really trying to draw a book out, because I knew when it was over, I would feel a sense of loss.  I savored each tiny morsel of the text, and allowed my heart to break a little at the conclusion of each successive part.  A wonderful historical drama, with a nice romantic substory.

A touring review copy of this book was made available by Crazy Book Tours.