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The Doctor and the Diva

3.33  ·  Rating Details ·  1,398 Ratings  ·  272 Reviews
It is 1903; Dr Ravell is a young, Harvard-trained obstetrician whose reputation for helping couples conceive has made him a rising star. He has treated women from all walks of Boston society, but when Ravell meets Erika--an opera singer whose talent and beauty make a dazzling combination--he knows their doctor-patient relationship will be like none he has ever had. Especia ...more
Kindle Edition, 445 pages
Published (first published January 1st 2010)
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Juliana Philippa
Rich debut historical novel centering around three compelling and flawed characters

The Doctor and the Diva is Adrienne McDonnell's debut novel and in this reader's opinion, it is a very successful one. The book centers around an extremely talented woman, Erika Myrick, her wealthy and business-minded husband, Peter, and a successful obstetrician, Dr. Ravell. Erika and Peter have been trying to get pregnant for many years, but without any success. By the time they consult Dr. Ravell, Erika has giv
Sandi *~The Pirate Wench~*
"Rich historical romantic debut novel?" Rich alright..bad writing that was all over the place,characters I couldnt connect with at all to even TRY and get into the story. I usually make it to 150 pages,sometimes more before tossing in the towel. This was a record for me I didnt even get that far..I even skimmed to see IF it gets chance. Maybe that's why the library had a sell off this weekend? Hmmmm..
My second review not posted on this site in six and a half years.

It's a little bit about this book, a little bit about this goodreads mess, and a little bit about all of you:

To sum it up: If you are reading this, thank you. You are amazing.

...I'd have posted it here, but unfortunately, I think it is too "off-topic."
Feb 02, 2011 Cleverly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am trying to figure out how to write a fair review for this because the writing was excellent and this idea behind the plot was original and I am sure lots of people would have enjoyed this. The first half was awesome I couldn't wait to see what happened next. Infidelity, low morals and loose judgement was a major part in this book. Though I know that type of read is not for everyone it started to tell a great story. It's not a YA and I don't want anyone to confuse this as so.

Have you read a
Eye-opening look back to what was thought and done at the turn of the 20th century regarding infertility. Enjoyed the characters and the descriptions of these places, made on feel like one was at the beach in Trinidad or up the river in Venezuela or in the historic towns of Italy or in the cold Boston town. I would say this was a distant cousin to Bel Canto, but this story was way better! (with the Opera explanations, etc). Let me know what you think?
Jun 03, 2015 Sandra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I am extremely conflicted about this book. On the one hand the different settings are inspiring as is the fact that it is about fertility doctors and opera singers. Both of which I know very little and I am always keen to learn about things that I know nothing off. It could have been so intriguing.

Sadly I am now out of positive things to say. First though let me say I fully agree with women combining carreers and motherhood. All throughout history women have done exactly that. Maybe not rich wom
May 10, 2010 Tami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful read! If I could give it more than 5 stars, I would. Stunning to realize it's a debut novel.

While taking place in the decade preceding WW1, the storyline is one that could easily revolve around women today thinking about, or actually balancing, careers with motherhood ...and Erika's struggles to decide her future at each crossroads in her life certainly rang true and authentic to me (being a similar age, in a similar situation, with similar thoughts and feelings). This is ultimately a
Happy Bookaholic
Dec 24, 2010 Happy Bookaholic rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
A hideous and callous tale that uses rape and absolute negligence—which is at times fatal—as an aphrodisiac for a cast of emotionally twisted characters. This is an utter waste of beautiful prose, intelligent research and true-life inspiration.

Before readers swallow this bitter tale as a sad and poignant true story, they ought to be aware that none of the melodramatic events really occurred. The author states, on her website, that her ex-husband's ancestor abandoned her marriage and sons to pur

This novels biggest flaw is the lack of organic characterization. The writing was strong, even stunning in some parts, and the atmosphere of turn of the century Boston, pre-war Italy, and the Wild South American jungle were haunting. But none of that matters if a reader can't get behind the characters who people the story.

(view spoiler)
Dec 08, 2011 Erica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: don-t-do-it
This review has a spoiler:

I thought this book would be more inspiring and rich, but it was not. I felt there was too much written in great detail of mundane things and less of the story. The characters didn't offer much to like about any of them, all selfish in their own ways.

I can't imagine a mother leaving her child, or a man so desperate for a child he would knowingly let his wife have an affair to get pregnant and a romance lasting 9 years without contact. It's not that I'm unromantic, but
Nov 11, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in Boston in 1906, Erica Von Kessler has high hopes of being an opera star. Her husband, Peter, has a differing opinion of Erica's career choice and is constantly herding her from one doctor to another in hopes of having their fertility issues resolved. When Erica and Peter engage the services of Dr. Ravell, Peter is very hopeful that Ravell's incredible advancements in the field will solve their problem once and for all. But Erica is far from being hopeful and it's her despondency over h ...more
Aug 13, 2010 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a pleasure it is when you get the triple threat historical novel. One that entertains, enlightens and surprises.

Opening at the turn of the 20th century in Boston, The Doctor and The Diva is the story of Erika von Kessler's search for herself. Opera singer wannabe Erika is happily married to successful botanist Peter. They would be a golden couple except for one thing, after years of marriage they have been unable to conceive a child. Erika is trying to reconcile herself to this but Peter s
From my blog

One of the first books I picked up from the Singapore library is The Doctor and The Diva by Adrienne McDonnell. I picked it up because it had an intriguing name and the story on the flap seemed interested.

I almost abandoned the book halfway through as it was a heart-strings pulling kind of story. Set in the early 1900′s, the book obviously revolves between Dr.Ravell and his patient – the diva Erika. Erika dreams big of going to Italy and being
I'd like to thank Goodreads FirstReads giveaways for this advanced reader's edition. A hopeful pick, as always.

After finishing this novel, my strongest comment is that it's "chick-lit" trying to pass as historical romance. There's the historical setting, the forbidden affair, the disapproving family... but honestly, not a lot of romance. As a reader I never really connected with the characters; the descriptive writing was well presented, but the characters - even after 400 pages - fell flat. Th
Holly Weiss
"I Swear I Will Win"

“Lo giurai, la vincero.” Mezzo soprano Erika von Kessler sings these words in an Italian opera aria while fulfilling her dream of a stage career toward the end of this book. It is 1903. Women had babies and raised families. Some women opted for careers in the arts. Erika wants both and will do what is necessary to “win”.

Ms. McDonnell’s debut novel stems from letters collected by her family about an ancestor pursuing an operatic career. Although the author writes passionately
Sep 02, 2015 Etcetorize rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh boy, I really dislike posting unfavourable reviews of books because I can't even begin to imagine how much hard work goes into creating them. But I really am challenged to say very many nice things about this particular novel.

I found ALL of the characters (except poor Quentin) to be the most selfish, egotistical, self-absorbed lot of people lacking morals I have probably ever read about. I wanted to like at least one of them but just couldn't find anything redeeming in any of them. In fact, I
Aug 21, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
As a fan of historical romance books, I found this novel to be simply astounding. The author is relatively unknown, this is perhaps her best known work. Do not let that phase you, because The Doctor & The Diva is marvellous.

At times, you feel as if you are walking alongside Erica and pursuing her operatic dreams with her. It is difficult to underestimate her character, because throughout it is easy to envision her dreams becoming true. Sadness, deception, beauty, fame, romance and desperati
Aug 24, 2011 Rene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was so surprised by this book! I was looking for something light in my to-be-read stack and I ended up with something that I couldn't put down. There were moments in this book when I felt myself in the room with the music, felt the vibrations through bones of the characters. The dilemma for a woman to either pursue her dreams of a career or investing in your family is something very pertinent for me right now. We all do what we trust we have to do, some may call it crazy, others call it brave. ...more
Dec 29, 2010 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm torn on my rating here. On one hand, the book was solidly written. Beautiful prose, excellent "readability," grand adventure, and a fascinating set of backdrops over which the story was imposed.

On the other hand, the characters were so flawed that I found it almost impossible to root for any of them. This makes them realistic, but it also ensured that when I finished the book, I felt somewhat unsatisfied. Further, there was a huge revelation near the end of the story - readers will know what
Nov 08, 2013 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 stars for a lovely writing style and period backdrops, but 3.5 stars overall just based on my gut reaction. It's not so much a historical novel as a soap opera with fun costumes and exotic locations. Now that I think about it, the book is a lot like an opera, which is fitting given the subject (and a literary accomplishment in itself). It just didn't wow me in terms of characters or suspense. You go to an opera primarily to enjoy the music, not to be drawn in by a well-crafted story; similarly ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the story somewhat. It was different, unorthodox, even immoral if you will. The characters are selfish to the point of annoying and how they acted, less than believable, but I enjoyed it. As dashing as Ravell sounded, I couldn't get into his character, nor Peter's. But I had no problem with their character flaws until Erika up and abandoned her child to pursue her career. As a mother, I find that appalling and didn't care for Erika after that, but that's probably the only issue I had. ...more
Apr 08, 2013 Sue rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medicine
I'm rating this book a solid 3.5 stars. (And though I know I can't really rate it with a 1/2 star, this is how I often think of my book ratings, so at least I'm noting it's full status in the review!) Though there is certainly an element of romance to the story (or, more precisely, lust)and some medical history, too, the primary story line (in my opinion) has to do with making hard choices. Career or child? Professional status or ethical integrity? Husband or lover? These are the choices that dr ...more
Sherryl Caulfield
It is some time since I read this book and I just came across my copy on a friends' bookshelf. What I enjoyed about this book was its geographic sweep: from Boston to the Caribbean to the Middle East and Italy. Quite interesting knowing elements were inspired by a true story and fascinating to read the research notes at the end regarding the early days of artificial insemination. An unusual love story that vaguely reminded me of Love in The Time of Cholera. This novel had the makings of a great ...more
Aug 12, 2010 Jodi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2010 Holly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Again, another book where I'd give it 1.5 stars if I could. The story seemed to have all the components of a favorite historical novel, but I had trouble understanding how a mother could leave her 5 year old son and move across the ocean to pursue an opera career. The ending also felt rushed and not well thought out.

Gelo Salinio
I am finally finished with this and let me just say that I have mixed feelings for this book. It was slow paced so it was it little tiring to read but the story has a unique flow to it so I couldn't just put it down. Still what i feel for this book is both postive and negative at the same time. :P
Jen King
Apr 16, 2015 Jen King rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's just me but this book was too slow and uninteresting. Didn't even finish it, which is very much unlike me.
Anna Rebecca
There was nothing about this book to recommend it. In a word is was boring -- utterly boring. This book was so dull and poorly written I didn't even bother to finish it.
Jed L
Jul 24, 2010 Jed L rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Not a great read in my opinion. Plot confusing and dialogue sub par. The only reason I read it is that it was given to me in a Goodreads Giveaway. Maybe the next one will be better.
Mar 14, 2012 Marci rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012-books-read
Did not finish. So slow and the storyline was not of my liking.
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"Some novels just naturally enslave you, and [THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA] is one of them... serious and gripping... a brilliant debut novel." -- THE WASHINGTON POST

"This amazing debut novel ... is, quite simply, one of the best novels I've read all year." -- HISTORICAL NOVELS REVIEW (an Editor's Choice Selection)

"Sumptuous... an explosive tale. Read the book now, then place bets on when the movie ver
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