Colleen Turner's Reviews > The Doctor and the Diva

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell
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Oct 25, 2011

really liked it
Read from October 11 to 19, 2011

Here is the review I wrote for www.readerunboxed.com:

The Doctor and the Diva is quite unlike any novel I have read before. We not only learn the history of modern fertility research and treatments but are introduced to wholly original characters that make decidedly human choices with often unseen consequences. Adrienne McDonnell has a descriptive style that has you tasting the salty sweat and tears right along with her characters. Each personage is fully developed enough for you to sympathize with them even when you see the disaster that inevitably lies ahead.

Erika, by far my favorite character, is truly a woman before, or outside of, her time. Her ambition and passion is for music and singing and, while she does love her husband at the onset of the novel, is tired of living a life she no longer wants. By the time Dr. Ravell enters her life she has already decided she is not meant to have a child with her husband, Peter, and is ready to leave for Italy and the life she does in fact wish to have. Ravell’s quick obsession and friendship with both Erika and Peter leads him to make a drastic, very unethical choice that will keep them in his life and, he thinks, make them both happy as well. His actions start them on a path that leads to a unique love triangle and new passions for each of them.

One of my favorite storylines was Erika’s unwavering determination to travel to Italy and do everything in her power to become the opera diva her God-given talent required her to be. She lets nothing – not a husband, not society, not even a child – stop her from reaching her goals. While I didn’t agree with all the choices she made, I had to admire her for doing what she felt she needed to do. The book makes a point of highlighting that women have often been expected to put their dreams aside for their families. This is sometimes still true today although not nearly as much as in the time the novel is set. Erika’s infertility falls squarely on her shoulders and then, when she does have a child and afterward still finds a way to pursue her own interests, it is viewed as simply preposterous.

The one character that I truly felt sorry for was Quentin, Erika’s son. While all three adults have their own reasons for wanting Erika to have a child (Erika wishes to conquer this obstacle before being able to move on to her career; Peter thinks a child will keep Erika at home and would give him something he has always wanted; Ravell wants to keep his friends happy while keeping Erika close) no one seems to think about what will happen to the child once it becomes an actual person. Quentin is left without parents for much of his young life. The descriptions of Quentin longing for family and closeness brought tears to my eyes and was the only time I felt some real dislike for Erika. As a mother it was hard to read.

Overall I was fully impressed with this novel. I loved the journeys I went along for and feel like I can almost cross some of the exotic locations off my list of places to visit (almost). Adrienne McDonnell’s writing is sensuous, absorbing and a real delight.
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10/12/2011 page 54
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