10 December 2010

Imprint Friday: The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell

Welcome to Imprint Friday and today's featured imprint: Pamela Dorman Books. Stop by each week to be introduced to a must-read title from one of my favorite imprints. I know you'll be adding many of these books to your wish list.

The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnell, is exactly my kind of book: historical fiction with a solid foundation in a true story about family members with a generous mix of women's rights, medical issues, and difficult personal decisions. This is a story I want to read.

Here's the publisher's summary:

It is 1903. Dr. Ravell is a young Harvard-educated obstetrician with a growing reputation for helping couples conceive. He has treated women from all walks of Boston society, but when Ravell meets Erika--an opera singer whose beauty is surpassed only by her spellbinding voice--he knows their doctor-patient relationship will be like none he has ever had.

After struggling for years to become pregnant, Erika believes there is no hope. Her mind is made up: she will leave her prominent Bostonian husband to pursue her career in Italy, a plan both unconventional and risky. But becoming Ravell's patient will change her life in ways she never could have imagined.
As I said, this novel appealed to me on a variety of levels from straight historical fiction to an examination of the age-old women's dilemma of how to balance a career with motherhood. But it may have been the opening line of the Washington Post's review that sealed the deal for me: "Some novels just naturally enslave you, and this is one of them."

One aspect of The Doctor and the Diva I find very interesting is that it seems to bring out strong emotions in women readers. For example, Julie from Booking Mama was put off by the characters and their choices; however, she said: "I was extremely impressed with Ms. McDonnell's writing style, and it's hard to believe that [this] is her debut novel. I thought the historical aspects of this novel seemed to be very authentic."

On the other side, "grow and change and their lives become much more than they had been. The three [main characters] are also somewhat diminished by their experiences as well, which is a point I feel was handled beautifully."

The Doctor and the Diva is thus the perfect choice for a book club: a well-written, well-researched novel that creates a variety of reactions. Adrienne McDonnell's website includes a reading group guide, which will jump-start your discussion.

In this short video, McDonnell discusses the basis of her novel, some of her research, and the behavior of her characters. There are no spoilers.

The Doctor and the Diva was an Indie Next Pick for August 2010.

This book was featured as part of my Imprint Fridays feature and my Spotlight on Pamela Dorman Books. For more information about the imprint, please read Pamela Dorman's introductory letter, posted here on December 3, 2010.

The Doctor and the Diva at Powell's
The Doctor and the Diva at Book Depository
These links lead to affiliate programs.

Published by Viking / Pamela Dorman Books, July 2010
ISBN-13: 9780670021888


Beth Kephart 12/10/10, 7:44 AM  

I want to take a month out of my life and just read Pamela Dorman Books!

ANd it is so important, isn't it, to find books that spark discussion. I keep thinking about a recent review of Michael Cunningham's latest book, in which the reviewer praised it for not being perfect. Perfection being a gloss.

Julie P. 12/10/10, 8:16 AM  

This is definitely a perfect book for book clubs. As you mentioned, I had some "strong" feelings about the characters. I'm almost sure there are members of my group who would disagree. Fantastic discussion possibilities.

Audra 12/10/10, 9:50 AM  

The few reviews I've seen of this make me think it is crazy good -- but the description alone makes my stomach knot a little -- in a good way!

Anonymous,  12/10/10, 10:37 AM  

This sounds like a fantastic read for my book club. I can't wait to bring it up.

Barbara 12/10/10, 12:55 PM  

Thank you for including the video. I can hardly wait to find this book and read it!

nat @book, line, and sinker 12/10/10, 3:18 PM  

i don't really read that much historical fiction, but the synopsis of this book really drew me in. i usually read contemporary, YA, memoir, humor, or travel writing, but you may have sold me on this one.

i really love how your blog has developed and the great things you've done here. your publisher spotlights and cooking challenge are two of my favorite features. :)

have a great weekend!

Margot 12/10/10, 8:21 PM  

I'm with Beth Kephart - I'd like to spend a month doing nothing but read all the Pamela Dorman books. The more I think about it the more I l like the idea.

Carrie K. 12/10/10, 9:17 PM  

I have this waiting on my to-review shelf- really need to find time for it soon!

Rebecca Rasmussen 12/11/10, 8:19 AM  

I love that Washington Post Line so much: I love when books enslave me! You win, book :)

Beth Hoffman 12/11/10, 9:08 AM  

This book is already on my list and I can't wait to crack the spine!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 12/16/10, 8:47 PM  

Thanks for telling us that it was "safe" to view the video (no spoilers).

And, thanks, also, for the reminder about this book. I knew the title was familiar, but I haven't yet added it to my TBR.

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