Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Review: The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

The Midwife of Venice
By Roberta Rich
Release Date: February 14, 2012
Summary: 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 orPeople 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.

Review: I haven't read a straight historical fiction book in a while, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one! This historical fiction story was interesting and had me intrigued all the way until the end. 

Hannah is a Jewish midwife in Venice during the year 1575. She lives in the Jewish ghetto where laws are strict and engaging with Christians is unheard of. Hannah's husband has just been kidnapped and sold as a slave and Hannah must do whatever she can to get her back, even if that entails going against every law established by the Rabbi. 

Hannah's determination and skill as a midwife make her such an interesting character. She is a devoted Jew, but her love for her husband and growing love for Matteo, the Christian baby she helps deliver, are put above everything else she knows. Venice is also such an interesting place for the story to take place. There are different levels of society and sicknesses like the plague are very common among the people. 

Overall, this was a quick, interesting book that really showed me what life was like in Venice during the 1500s. Some parts were slow, but the characters were unique and the relationships among the characters were strong. I didn't know how things were going to end until the last chapter, which is just the way I like it. Even if you're not into historical fiction, this would be a great mother's day gift! Not only is the cover super pretty, but it's the perfect book for anyone to get lost in for a while. 


  1. I'm not big on historical fiction, it depends on the period, but this sounds like a lovely book and it does sound like a good mother's day gift!

  2. I enjoyed this one as well. You are right - perfect mom's day gift!

  3. I'm not usually much for historical fiction, but this one looks intriguing. Thanks for the great review. :)


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