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Diva - Review

I received an audio copy from MacMillian Audio and a digital from St. Martin's Press via NetGalley. All views are my own

By a show of hands, who listens to Opera? I sure didn't. Other than a few mainstream hits such as Carmen's HabaneraAve MariaFigaro, and whatever Bugs Bunny was maestroing on that episode, I know next to zilch about Opera and their singers. So it's a surprise I picked up this next title, Diva by Daisy Goodwin. It's a loose biographical fiction about the opera singer Maria Callas. I enjoyed learning about Callas and what she brought to the world, and now I can share what I learned with you!

"In the glittering and ruthlessly competitive world of opera, Maria Callas was known simply as la divina: the divine one. With her glorious voice, instinctive flair for the dramatic, and striking beauty, she was the toast of the grandest opera houses in the world. But her fame was hard won: Raised in Nazi-occupied Greece by a mother who mercilessly exploited her golden voice, she learned early in life to protect herself from those who would use her for their own ends.
When she met the fabulously rich Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis, for the first time in her life, she believed she’d found someone who saw the woman within the legendary soprano. She fell desperately in love. He introduced her to a life of unbelievable luxury, showering her with jewels and sojourns in the most fashionable international watering holes with celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
And then suddenly, it was over. The international press announced that Aristotle Onassis would marry the most famous woman in the world, former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, leaving Maria to pick up the pieces.
In this remarkable novel, Daisy Goodwin brings to life a woman whose extraordinary talent, unremitting drive, and natural chic made her a legend. But it was only in confronting the heartbreak of losing the man she loved that Maria Callas found her true voice and went on to triumph."


First and foremost, I'd like to thank Macmillian Audio for blessing me with a copy of this title. Diving into this story via audio was a great choice because we get to hear snippets of Callas performing some of her best work throughout her career. I also loved the narrator, Lorelei King. She did an amazing job conveying Callas's story. The audio also includes a short conversation between the author and her singing coach, Josephine Goddard, as she wanted to experience everything Callas has achieved.

The story takes place in the middle of Callas's career, as she's already a renowned singer, famous for her personable voice and regal work ethic. Goodwin walks us through some of her most famous arias that were career-breaking at the time. Another big part of the story is her failing marriage and love affair with the dastardly smooth-talker Aristotle Onassis. Wheew, that romance was a whirlwind, and boy, was he a motherfucker!

What I appreciate the most about this novel is that we get to see Maria Callas's personal life. After finishing the book, I immediately went into research mode and realized that most of Callas's life is told by people surrounding her or the paparazzi at the time. You rarely hear her talk about her private life (unless it's her mother. Oh, the battle she had with her mother!), but you always knew her professional persona. Even though this book is a fictional account to fill in the gaps, I love that Goodwin was able to shed some light on the real Maria Callas. You can tell that she was a fan.

Overall, I rated this book 3.5 stars. I had it at a solid three, but the book's ending bumped it to a half-point. I'm glad Callas could finally love herself after her heartache with Onassis. The gall of this dude! I enjoyed learning about Maria Callas and her exploits. She was a force to be reckoned with and clearly a gem in the Opera world. While I'm still not a huge fan of the genre, I can't deny the beauty and raw talent Callas brings to the stage. After reading this book, I hope you'll check out some of her performances, as I did.

Diva debuts on January 23, 2024

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