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The Midwife of Venice Paperback – Deckle Edge, Feb 8 2011
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“A lively tale involving love, blackmail, family, murder, plague, intercultural compassion, dramatic last-minute rescues and some very creative disguises.... Rich capably depicts the strength of women and the precariousness of their lives, regardless of status or religion.”
—The Globe and Mail
“A lavishly detailed historical novel.”
“Enticing.... An adventure filled with love, intrigue, murder and unbreakable loyalty in a renaissance city where exotic perfumes and foul odours almost seem to waft off the page.”
“A compelling and engaging novel, a well-researched high-stakes drama written with elegance and compassion: fascinating!”
— Sandra Gulland, author of The Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun
“A meticulously researched page-turner that evokes renaissance Venice with remarkable clarity, radiance, and vigour.” — William Deverell, author of Mind Games
“Not only did Roberta Rich transport me to sixteenth-century Venice, with its seductive tapestry of smells, sights, textures and beliefs, she involved me in a poignant story of seasoned love. I don’t know which I admired more — the wonderfully realized setting or the suspenseful story of Hannah and Isaac.”
— Katherine Ashenburg, author of The Dirt on Clean
“A suspenseful tale.... The book is obviously well researched, and its descriptions of Venice and Malta are both fascinating and realistic.”
— Vancouver Sun
“Roberta Rich plunges into the stench, intrigue and skulduggery of 16th-century plague-ridden Venice.... Rich revels in the details of light, smell, sound, and larger-than-life characters.”
— More Magazine
“Rich successfully captures the seedy side of 16th-century Venice—the Jewish ghetto, the plague, the confluence of religious and legal authority.”
“Entertainingly suspenseful.... [A] moving melodrama of steadfast love against all odds. In a series of cliff-hanging chapters, Hannah transforms from a “timid little ghetto mouse” into a resourceful young woman as she seeks to save her husband and an innocent child.... Rich’s fascinating historical details and her warm empathy for her protagonists will capture historical fiction fans and readers who enjoyed Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent.”
Rich skillfully incorporates a wealth of historical detail into her riveting tale of a heroine who won't give up on her marriage.”
About the Author
Born in Buffalo, New York, Roberta Rich was until recently a lawyer practicing family law. She has also been a student, waitress, nurses’ aide, hospital admitting clerk, and factory assembly line worker. She currently divides her time between Vancouver, B.C. and Colima, Mexico. She is married and has one daughter, three step-children, a German Shepherd, tropical fish and many oversexed parakeets. The Midwife of Venice marks her debut as a novelist.
“Much of the history of women is written in water,” says Rich of the impetus to create a literary heroine based on the history of the Jews in Venice, after touring the Venice ghetto on holiday. “Their accomplishments disappear as smoothly as a stone thrown in a pond. The creations of women are transitory — meals cooked, clothes mended, clothes washed, clothes sold (for one of the few professions Jews were permitted at the time was trade in second hand clothing), children born, children birthed, and children raised. After that trip, I started to read all I could find on the subject of daily life in the ghetto. There is precious little. And precious little about the daily lives of women in particular and how they gave birth. This book is a way to imagine a way into all that invisible history.”
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Top Customer Reviews
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!**
The novel is set in 16th century Venice where the main character, Hannah Levi, is a midwife living in the Jewish ghetto. Her husband is a merchant who has been kidnapped and sold into slavery in Malta. One night a Christian Count comes to Hannah desperate for her to assist his wife who is in a difficult labour. But a Jewish woman helping deliver a Christian baby is against the law and not only would it put her entire community at risk, it's a crime punishable by torture and death. But with a large sum of money offered to her for her efforts, enough to buy her husband's freedom, Hannah decides to risk everything for the man she loves.
The Midwife Of Venice, is more than just a slice of life novel from the past, it's a fast-paced suspense story that's not only beautifully written, but a genuine page-turner. Roberta Rich has created a fierce heroine in Hannah Levi, whose character leaps off the page. The descriptions of life in the 16th century are so vivid and rich in detail I found myself getting lost in the landscape depicted before me. The brutality of that time period, and the sensation of life and death always hanging in the balance throughout the story is compelling. The only thing about this book that I found disappointing was the fact that it wasn't twice as long, because it certainly felt epic. Highly recommended.
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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I wasn't a fan of the writing, the story wasn't particularly gripping, and the ending was very abrupt. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amanda Low
If you are a nurse or ever had experience with birthing you'd probably like this tale. I found it exciting and interesting. Read morePublished 7 months ago by rusty
This was a pleasant enough read, but a little too contrived with it's "happily ever after" ending. I particularly enjoyed her detailed descriptions of Venice. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Thelma
Hannah, a sixteenth-century Jewish midwife living in Venice, is approached by two Christian noblemen in the dead of night. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Lisa Adams
Trite, full of historical inaccuracies from what I have read...our book club panned it. We felt it had potential but did not live up to the beginning.Published 23 months ago by Mary-Jo Ohl
As a city built on water, Venice has long been synonymous with extremes of beauty and corruption, insularity and internationalism, and the uses and abuses of power. Read morePublished on July 9 2014 by beryl young
My review of this book is really more of a story. I don’t come from a family of readers. Sure they pick up the odd book to flip through before bed or when they’re on vacation but... Read morePublished on Dec 17 2013 by Christa Seeley
I enjoyed this book immensely. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. It takes you on a journey through oppression, sacrifice, and love.kPublished on Dec 15 2013 by Suzyvg