Monday, February 6, 2012

BOOK: The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich, 321 pages

Venice in February; Random Reading Challenge

I think I expected this book to be more than it actually was; the book it was was a good page-turning read. It was really good historical fiction - lots of facts, and I felt immersed in 1500s Venice, which is a kind of scummy, dirty place. The difference between the rich Christians and the poor Jews was aptly portrayed. It was a story of a couple separated by obstacles (husband Isaac captive on Malta as a slave, Jewish midwife Hannah caught up in a dangerous Christian birth) and their path to getting together. Plus, the plague is arriving! Lots of obstacles. Hannah is plucky!

Things happen fast if slightly unrealistically, but once I turned off the part of my brain that said 'Perhaps little Jewish woman in the Christian home after curfew, you should just get yourself home instead of going to see what that noise was near those angry vengeful brothers,' I had a good time. The Jewish ghetto in Venice must be a very large part of its history, because this is not the first book I've read during this time with this setting and the conflicts. (I think it was In the Company of the Courtesan.) The book flips between Hannah's story and her husband, Isaac, stuck a slave on Malta. But they didn't take their slaves too seriously there - they were slaves just until their ransom arrived. I think there could be another story on Malta, as the two nuns that somewhat save Isaac were quite interesting and developed characters for their minor role. I would read more about them.

I wish I had more time to read another of the historical fiction novels on the Random Reading Challenge, but the books on the list are very popular at the library.
The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak,  The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay,  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain,  Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich,  The Salt Road by Jane Johnson, and  Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran. I'm going to save The Paris Wife for Paris in July and I imagine I'll pick up The Winter Palace at the book store and not put it back down before too long. There is still time to read one of these books and review it by the end of February.


  1. Glad to read your review of the Venice book; isn't it hard to suspend one's disbelief? I either fall into that naturally, or the novel stays "false" for me all the way through. I'm not very good at compartmentalizing.

    I read The Paris Wife last year for Paris in July and it was one of my favorite reads for 2011. I guess the masses aren't always wrong, although I usually hate to agree with them. ;)

  2. I also read and reviewed this one for this challenge. I totally agree with your review. Good job.

  3. bellezza - I can't wait to read The Paris Wife. I'm going to read it for Paris in July (part of my European tour this year I guess).

    dana - thanks! It had its good points, but it was recognizing what it wasn't that was the hard part.


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