Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The Midwife Of Venice by Roberta Rich
Doubleday Canada, 2011
Reviewed by Julia Madeleine (originally published in The Streetsville Village Times, Evening Out Magazine, & Port Credit Village Times - April, 2011)
Had I seen this book on a shelf in Chapters my eyes would certainly have drifted over it, I wouldn’t have even given it a second glance. Historical fiction isn’t something I’ve ever sought out. The title especially wouldn’t have interested me. But I have to say, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read The Midwife Of Venice.
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.
visit Roberta's Website to learn more: http://robertarich.com/