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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great historical debut
The Midwife of Venice is Roberta Rich's debut novel. And it's one I wouldn't have discovered on my own - so, thanks Jessica for the great recommendation!

Hannah Levi is a midwife in the Jewish ghetto of Venice in 1575. When a Christian nobleman asks her to attend his wife, she initially refuses. After all, it is forbidden by law for a Jew to give care to a...
Published on Feb. 25 2011 by Luanne Ollivier

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Midwife of Venice
The story line was good but it was a very short book for the price. The size of the book should be included in the description. I read it in 2 hours - it was basically the length of a children's story book.
Published 13 months ago by Willow


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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great historical debut, Feb. 25 2011
By 
Luanne Ollivier - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
The Midwife of Venice is Roberta Rich's debut novel. And it's one I wouldn't have discovered on my own - so, thanks Jessica for the great recommendation!

Hannah Levi is a midwife in the Jewish ghetto of Venice in 1575. When a Christian nobleman asks her to attend his wife, she initially refuses. After all, it is forbidden by law for a Jew to give care to a Christian. But he is desperate - his wife has been labouring for 2 days and is near death. Against the wishes of her rabbi, Hannah agrees - the nobleman has agreed to pay an exorbitant fee. That fee will allow Hannah to buy back her husband Isaac, who has been captured and forced into slavery in Malta.

The Midwife of Venice is full of rich historical detail - the social mores and customs of the time, religious differences and a fascinating look at midwifery. The chapters alternate between Hannah in Venice and Isaac in Malta and their continuing struggle to be together. Isaac's chapters are just as full of historical detail, but the characters in these chapters seemed a little overdrawn, such as the nun who buys Isaac. It is Hannah and her tale I enjoyed the most. Her character came to life on the page.

Rich has successfully combined history, suspense and romance into a fascinating page turner. My only complaint - it ended too soon! But it looks like a sequel is in the works - I'll be picking it up for sure.

**Congratulations to Roberta Rich - The Midwife of Venice is #8 on the Globe and Mail hardcover bestseller list!**
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Midwife of Venice, Feb. 16 2011
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
Wow - I highly reccomend this book! I read it in a day (couldn't put it down) and loved the strong female characters and descriptions of Jewish life in 16th century Venice. What a terrific novel!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midwife of Venice - Must Read!, Feb. 15 2011
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
The Midwife of Venice is fantastic. The story is so compelling I could barely put it down. Roberta Rich creates a 16th century Venice that is accessible and easily understood. The story on its own is captivating, but the backdrop of the Jewish ghetto in Venice adds to our richness and understanding of that place in time. Brilliant!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, a great book to read., April 5 2011
By 
Karoline (Richmond BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
I absolutely loved reading this book. It was so beautifully written, the plot was interesting, and the characters were all memorable. Things just seemed to happen one even after another that the book ended up being a page turner and I would definitely recommend this book for those that are going through a 'reading rut' at the moment. This is the perfect book to get back on track on your 'reading roll'.

The descriptions of the city of Venice were wonderful. There were really great contrasts between the setting where Hannah lives (the Jewish area) and the Christian area. It's not to say that Hannah lives in deep poverty she seems to be living comfortable with just the basic needs. However when compared to the places she goes to outside of the Ghetto area, it's a vast difference and shows how different these two groups of people live. The persecution and hatred that Hannah and her people have to go through on a daily basis is hard to read, and does make you upset while reading them. However, it is historically accurate, and it's interesting to note the mentioning of the blood libel, and how crimes committed against Jews were hugely ignored (however if it was vice versa, there would have been an uproar). So throughout the novel, everywhere she turns, Hannah is faced with her 'Jewishness'. It's what sets her apart from the rest and it's painfully obvious; however she deals with it accordingly and puts it all aside, especially while she does her duties as a midwife.

I really did enjoy reading about Hannah a lot. She's such a strong woman and very determined. She even puts aside her beliefs to doing what she feels is the right thing. She was such a strong character and I really enjoyed reading how despite all the odds against her, and the threats she had to face, she managed to survive and to keep a clear head throughout the novel. Not to mention, she had to make out a living on her own while her husband was taken into slavery, and she manages to survive despite all these overwhelming odds against her. I really did admire her, and I really liked reading about her throughout the book.

Isaac's story line was good, although I wish there was a little more to it. Then again if there was, then it wouldn't be really called 'The Midwife of Venice' would it? Anyway, it was good enough to read, and an interesting story line for a supporting character. Towards the end of the book, I thought it was just a little too rushed at the end, and everything was done just a little too convenient. However, everything did seem to fall into place and I'm wondering if there is going to be a sequel to this. If there is, count me in because I'll definitely be picking it up!

This was a beautifully written, wonderful book to read. I most definitely recommend this book to all historical fiction lovers. Roberta Rich is one of to keep an eye on if she continues to write as superb as this book. I absolutely loved this one.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, March 9 2011
By 
Ottawa Reader (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
Roberta Rich's story is compelling, the imagery is vivid and the characters are interesting and complex. From the delicious to the disgusting, the author paints a portrait of the era that is so multidimensional that I was completely transported. I was sad when it ended! I hope to see more from this exciting new writer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Midwife of Venice, June 24 2011
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This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
It has a decent hook and starts off on a fast pace, which is the type of read I prefer. I found it reached its crescendo far too early, at the end of the fifth chapter. From there it settled into a predictable pace with a foreseeable outcome, much like the travails Hannah Levi attended to.

I would have preferred to see the main characters; Hannah and Isaac, give in a little more to temptation, thus creating more of an intimate crisis for the protagonists to overcome. Both conquered physical hardships, which, for modern day persons, would be difficult to comprehend. It is the intimate human struggles, many may experience at one point in life, which is somewhat lacking - things were tied up neatly like a shiny present. You could see them ride off into the preverbal sunset on the last page, as if their lives were to be a cake-walk from here on out, without the obstacles which make life interesting.

The novel is well written, with just the right amount of detail to clearly envision what the squalid living conditions of a sixteenth century Venetian Jewish Ghetto would be like.

Roberta Rich's portrayal of class and religious division is compelling. Her writing immediately opens up the fellowship between the two main characters and the reader.

I give this novel 3.5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Read, Nov. 28 2013
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Enjoyed this book very much. It keeps you turning the pages as you do not want to put it down!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Midwife of Venice, Aug. 19 2013
By 
Beverly A. Lapointe "video vixen" (Thornbury On Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
It is an easy book to read, from her life and husbands life, whereas he was captured and in a different part of the cournty.
I liked it, simple and nothing horrific happenings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing Story and an Impressive Debut Novel, June 14 2013
By 
Brett H "pentangle" (Brighton) - See all my reviews
(#1 HALL OF FAME)    (TOP 10 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
Above all the Midwife of Venice is a highly enjoyable read. Some historical novels are cleverly woven around actual events with the author putting the skin on the bones and combining fiction and known fact. However, the style of this tale is that there is no effort to blend in actual historical events and so this is a pure work of fiction that happens to be based in an historical context.

The action switches between Venice and Malta and is set in the late 16th Century. Hannah, a Jewish midwife, helps in delivering a gentile baby which is against a papal edict and hence is potentially disastrous not only for her but the whole of the ghetto. Her motives in doing this are to help free her husband, Isaac, who is being held as a hostage in Malta.

To some extent the reader has to suspend disbelief, since Hannah and Isaac seem to lead such eventful lives that it seems that they barely have a minute to draw breath. They are the sort of characters who, however bad their circumstances, seem to have an almost Flashman like ability to overcome all the odds. However, the result is very entertaining and to a large extent this is a page turner which is absorbing from the outset. The writing is crisp and concise. There is none of the waffle which marks many stories where the reader finishes the book feeling that it would have benefited from being edited down in size.

I was pleased that the author did not feel obliged to write the story in what she imagined was the language of the 16th Century as I think that when this is attempted the result often feels very contrived and does not make for easy reading. In fact the style is quite contemporary. The only issue I would mention is that non English words are used fairly regularly which most will not be familiar with. Although there is a glossary at the back which I did not discover for a while, it is a patient reader who is going to leave the text and look up the meaning. However, this is only a minor criticism and does not detract from the story in any major way.

To summarise, I found this to be an enjoyable and absorbing story. I think that most readers will appreciate this tale and read through it quite quickly. This is an impressive debut novel and I will certainly be looking out for the author's future offerings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift for a fan, May 17 2013
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This review is from: The Midwife of Venice (Paperback)
My mother is a fan of this author and as such this made an excellent gift. She very much appreciated the fact that it could be shipped directly to her.
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The Midwife of Venice
The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich (Paperback - Feb. 8 2011)
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