There's nothing more satisfying than a good summer read or, for that matter, getting submerged in a wonderful book, no matter the season.

So, when Sheryl Bacharach, of Alamo, recently attended a book signing at Rakestraw Books in Danville and listened to Bay Area author Adrienne McDonnell talk about her book, "The Doctor and the Diva," she was impressed with the novel and subsequently invited Adrienne to speak to her two book clubs this month. Sheryl held a special gathering in her home, which consisted of both book clubs, friends and some family members, who were all eager to hear how Adrienne came up with the concept for her book, which is partially based on family history.

Rather than a typical question-and-answer session about the novel, Adrienne talked about how she intricately wove fact with fiction, after pouring over letters, in addition to other intensive research about a woman on her husband's side of the family who in the early 1900s left a marriage to a prominent Boston man and her 5-year-old son to pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer in Italy. Adrienne wrote a rough draft in her 20s but shelved the manuscript for years, until she was ready to revisit it again after having her own life experiences, which gave her a different perspective on the book. Members were on the edge of their seats, listening to Adrienne and how the book came to life.

"I was amazed at how long ago the idea for this book took root and how persistent the author was in getting the book done to her satisfaction, which was truly a work of love for her," said Maria Jones. Echoing that thought, Beth DeGolia agreed as she recalled Adrienne telling the group that the first draft sat in her garage for 20 years.

"She said she had to live through traumas in her own life to get it right in the book. I guess it's not surprising that great authors draw from their own experiences," said Beth.

That stuck in Nancy Solomon's mind as well. "I feel that the most pivotal part of her talk was how she had to experience life before she was able to write about it after she had lived longer and experienced more and was able to share that with readers in a way they could relate," said Nancy. Rather than give details about the book away, I recommend the author's website at www.adriennemcdonnell.com.

I contacted Adrienne the day after she spoke, and we emailed back and forth. She enjoyed meeting the Alamo women and discussing her book.

"One of the most vibrant, stimulating and entertaining book club gatherings I can recall. I say that after having been on two extensive national book tours for 'The Doctor and the Diva' since it was first published by Viking/Penguin in 2010. The community of Alamo is obviously an extraordinary one, filled with people and families who are bonded to one another in deep, enduring ways," wrote Adrienne.

A member added, "What a master storyteller as well as writer. Adrienne wove her most personal, soulful experiences into her characters, and the insight of her life enabled her to create the most haunting moments of the book," said Leslie Holt.

Adrienne reflected on the gathering in Alamo. "Last night's 'literary salon' just brimmed with conviviality, great food and fascinating discussion, and I am so grateful to Sheryl Bacharach for being such a marvelous host and for planning what felt like a celebration of books and storytelling," she said.

Contact Caterina Mellinger at around- alamo@hotmail.com.