The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich is a lovely tale of an inventive and resourceful Jewish midwife named Hannah. The novel opens with a Christian count requesting Hannah’s assistance at the difficult labor of his wife. The generous count and his kind wife, Hannah herself and her fallen sister all balance delicately along the social spectrum where religion is concerned. Throughout the story, the author teaches about the subtle and not so subtle politics of religion in Venice in 1575. The message of the time is clear—Jews and Christians should not mingle. Relations between the religions are strained and at times deadly. The threat of violence overshadows everything. The novel is therefore much more compelling because each character breaks that social rule and in doing so becomes a different person. While Hannah lives with the consequences of assisting the count’s wife, her husband, Isaac, attempts to survive as a slave while hoping a ransom will be paid to the pirates who captured him. Both Hannah and Isaac are caught in desperate situations: each face despair and death while trying to figure out how to reach each other, both are treated inhumanely because of the religion, and both must use their wits to escape and make a new destiny for themselves. Rich’s writing is easy and fluid, her characters compelling and real, while her period details place the characters and the reader in a turbulent and violent time filled with surprising compassion and hope.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

  1. What a very nice review. Thank you. Roberta

  2. I’m honored that you read my review. Are you reading anything delightful and interesting these days?

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