The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

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Not since Anna Diamant’s The Red Tent or Geraldine Brooks’s People 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. A “lavishly detailed” (Elle Canada) debut that masterfully captures sixteenth-century Venice against a dramatic and poetic tale of suspense.

Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers using her secret “birthing spoons.” When a count implores her to attend his dying wife and save their unborn son, she is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but his payment is enough to ransom her husband Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can she refuse her duty to a woman who is suffering? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the child and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Told with exceptional skill, The Midwife of Venice brings to life a time and a place cloaked in fascination and mystery and introduces a captivating new talent in historical fiction.

About Roberta Rich

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Roberta Rich divides her time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Colima, Mexico. This is her first novel.
Published February 14, 2012 by Gallery Books. 338 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Midwife of Venice

Kirkus Reviews

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It's one crisis after another for a 16th-century Italian-Jewish midwife and her merchant husband struggling to be reunited.

Feb 19 2012 | Read Full Review of The Midwife of Venice

Publishers Weekly

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In her U.S. debut, Rich successfully captures the seedy side of 16th-century Venice—the Jewish ghetto, the plague, the confluence of religious and legal authority—but stumbles with unevenly rendered m

Dec 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Midwife of Venice

BC Books

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A Jewish midwife named Hannah Levi is asked to assist in the birth of a Christian count’s wife who is having a very difficult time with the delivery of her child.

Apr 09 2011 | Read Full Review of The Midwife of Venice


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.

Apr 06 2011 | Read Full Review of The Midwife of Venice

In between fending off the advances of both the women, Isaac must obtain enough scraps of food to keep himself alive and find a way to return to Venice and Hannah.

Oct 14 2012 | Read Full Review of The Midwife of Venice

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