The Doctor and the Diva
By Adrienne McDonnell
(Penguin Books, Paperback, 9780143119302, 432pp.)
Publication Date: October 25, 2011
Categories: Historical - General
"Some novels just naturally enslave you, and this is one of them...Serious and gripping...[a] brilliant debut novel." -The Washington Post
It is 1903, and Erika von Kessler has struggled for years to become pregnant. Resigned to childlessness, Erika-a talented opera singer and the wife of a prominent Bostonian-secretly plans to move to Italy to pursue her musical career. When the charismatic Doctor Ravell takes Erika on as a patient, he is mesmerized by her. Impetuously, he takes a shocking risk that could ruin them both.
Inspired by the author's family history, the novel moves from snowy Boston to the gilded balconies of Florence in a stunning tale of opera, longing, and the indomitable power of romantic obsession.
Adrienne McDonnell has taught literature and fiction writing at the University of California, Berkeley. She lives near San Francisco.
- During the time the novel was set, it was assumed that a problem conceiving meant that the woman had fertility problems. Why do you think that was the case? Medically speaking, has that changed over time? What about with society as a whole?