From Publishers Weekly
In her book-club friendly debut, McDonnell weaves the intriguing tale of an early 20th-century opera singer torn between her career and motherhood. Erika von Kessler, a mezzo-soprano of some regard, and her husband, Peter Myrick, have been trying without success to conceive a child for all six years of their marriage. They seek out the expertise of Dr. Ravell, a Boston obstetrician renowned for his fertility successes. Ravell, mesmerized by Erika's beauty and talent, vows to do anything to help the couple realize their dream of children, even if it means deceiving them, which, of course, it does. Meanwhile, Erika isn't so sure about her desire for motherhood and secretly makes plans to leave her husband and pursue fame in Italy. McDonnell bases the story on her family history and expertly incorporates surprising facts about the history of fertility research into a twisting tale of miscommunication, love, and unrealized dreams. (July)
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Erika von Kessler, the talented and beautiful daughter in a family of doctors, has a powerful and unique singing voice, a possessive husband who desperately wants a child, and the drive to triumph as an operatic singer. Erika's childlessness is the focal point of the first part of this story—set in America, Italy, and Trinidad before World War I—since it brings her into contact with attractive and technically advanced obstetrician Dr. Ravell, ultimately the love of her life and father of her children. Structurally complex, each of the book's six sections details a different aspect of Erika's relationship to husband Peter and Dr. Ravell (who, oddly enough is the only person in the book without a first name) and the development of her singing career in Florence. The omniscient narrator permits the author to use a variety of techniques and produces both depth of character development and a strong sense of place. In this conventional novel about unconventional people, the strong characterization and lushly descriptive writing will please fans of historical romances. --Ellen Loughran
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