St. Martin’s. Jan. 2024. 336p. ISBN 9781250279927. $29. F
Goodwin’s (The Fortune Hunter; The Last Duchess) latest historical novel covers more than a decade of world-renowned soprano Maria Callas’s life and several foundational childhood flashbacks. When Callas and Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis meet in 1957, they are both married, but a spark is ignited. They soon begin a passionate affair that spans nearly a decade. Callas performs at international venues for adoring fans, is lavishly adorned in Dior and Cartier, enjoys caviar and champagne, and cruises the Mediterranean on Onassis’s yacht Christina. Her social circle includes Hollywood royalty and political figureheads such as Princess Grace, Marlene Dietrich, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin, Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. Callas also experiences vulnerability and heartbreak. She is exploited by those closest to her, struggles with her body image, fights jealousy as Onassis openly pursues other women, and worries about prematurely losing her famous voice.
VERDICT Brava! Historical-fiction enthusiasts, fans of La Callas, and others will relish this view into the tumultuous love affair of a power couple; they’ll offer a standing ovation when, in the novel’s “Final Curtain,” the opera singer discovers her true voice.
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