Book Reviews, Reviews by Heather

{Review} The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

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Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.







My Thoughts on The Midwife of Venice:


The Midwife of Venice is a historically set novel that brings us deep into the life of Hannah and Issac, a childless couple of the late 1500’s. Hannah is a midwife, and Issac is a merchant who has been taken captive. Without a way to raise his ransom Hannah is left in their Venetian home (the ghetto where Jews are forced to live) to fend for herself.
One fateful evening she finds herself roused from her bed, and begged to attend to the Conte’s wife who has been laboring for days. While delivering babies, difficult babies, is a specialty of Hannah’s, it is illegal for a Jewish woman (or man) to attend to a Christian. She will risk not only her own life, but also her husband’s and those who reside in the ghetto if she accepts.
Will Hannah break Papal law in order to save the man she loves? If the baby dies will the Conte hold her responsible? Can Issac survive the life of a slave, beaten and starved, until Hannah can raise the ransom?
Refreshing, informative, historical, and downright touching are the words that come to mind when I think back to the words that graced the pages of this phenomenal romance novel. I enjoyed the religious history as well as the extensive descriptiveness to the point where I may never look at salt, the ocean, or even a silk worm the same way again.
The character development was excellent, and I found myself really connecting with Hannah. I think most women will on some level. She wasn’t extraordinary, but she was bright and she had drive. Even when faced with doing the right thing (and breaking the laws of the Catholic Church) Hannah chose to take a leap. These choices continue as the book progresses, but I don’t want to give too much away.
Roberta Rich is an author I plan to start following, while I love my paranormal and fantasy reads, I have always loved historical romance. There is something about stepping back in time, and walking in another person’s shoes. At times I find them far more interesting than boring lessons we learned back in school. If only more books graced our desks, than perhaps more would come to love the times that have passed us by, and possibly less would be forgotten about how life used to be.





My Rating

5 out of 5 Controllers

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