Title: The Doctor and the Diva
Author: Adrienne McDonnell
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: Doctor Ravell had already missed the funeral.
In the year 1903, Dr. Ravell is a young obstetrician with a reputation for helping couples who have given up on children. He is on the cutting edge of fertility research and treatments, and that is why Erika von Kessler and her husband Peter come to him. Erika is a rising opera star, and her husband wants more than anything to have a child. They have tried everything, and Ravell is their last hope. When Ravell continually has no luck helping the couple, his attraction to Erika leads him to make a decision that will irrevocably change all of their lives. The novel moves from Boston to a coconut plantation in the Caribbean to the historic city of Milan as these three people walk out the paths they each have chosen.
I really wanted to love The Doctor and the Diva, but in the end, I simply liked it. If I could break my rating down into elements, I would give the writing 5 stars and the characters and pacing 2 stars. I settled for 3 stars. It was very well-written, and I will happily pick up any future books by Adrienne McDonnell. The book also gets off to a terrific start plot-wise – I loved the beginning, the sections when all the characters were together, whether in Boston or in the Caribbean. But then there is a huge change that results in the characters being separated, and at that point the plot began to drag, only picking up again for the very end of the book.
My other big issue was the fact that I didn’t like two out of the three main characters. And it’s very difficult for me to tell you why without giving major plot spoilers, which I don’t want to do. I liked the character of Ravell very much, but thought Peter was pushy and unlikable. And Erika ends up making a decision that I really disagreed with, but mostly from a personal perspective. How’s that for vague? 🙂
I have read many other reviews of this book by bloggers who adored it, so I think this might be a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.” If you’d like a chance to read it and decide for yourself, let me know – I’ll be happy to send my copy to the first reader in the US or Canada who asks.