24.3.14

THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA, by Adrienne McDonnell

Opera and child bearing - how could they have anything in common? A first novel (published, of course) ought to have more errors in it than this delightful tale has! Based on diaries and stories about the author's ancestor, the tale is smoothly written, full of fascinating characters and unusual settings, emotionally satisfying, historically compelling, with arcane facts that will keep you interested if the love and compulsion don't. The diva in question, Erika von Kessler, married to a wealthy Bostonian who is obsessed with making her pregnant (to the point where he checks her underwear!), visits Dr. Ravell, who has developed a reputation for success with barren women (at this point - 1902 - nobody thinks a man could possibly be the problem). The story twists and turns, children die and are born, people go to Europe and Caribbean islands and South America, Erika's marriage tottters...and her career? You'll enjoy finding out what happens. This is a 5.