Title: Midwife of Venice
Author: Roberta Rich
Publication: Gallery Books
Release Date: February 12, 2012
I received this book from Gallery Books (Simon & Schuster) to read and review as a special post for Mother’s Day. I’m so glad I decided to read Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich. The cover definitely caught my eye; the back of the girl in the foreground with the landscape of Venice behind is amazing. Venice is one of those magical cities that stir your soul and move you in unexpected ways, Venice is on my bucket list for sure! Just imagine riding a gondola from neighbor to neighbor!
Midwife of Venice is set in the late 1500’s, when the plague was just starting to spread and the epidemic was prevalent. Roberta Rich has mastered the art of transcribing in detail the everyday life and politics of the people of Venice and Malta both Jew and Christian. Did she actually live another life during that time?
Weaving a rich tapestry filled with sensuality, Rich constructs a moving account of religious prosecution and unbelievable turmoil during a brutal time in International history. In truth, I don’t talk about religion or politics as a rule much less read about it but I could not put my copy of Midwife of Venice down. Thank you S&S for letting me review this impressive debut from an emerging writer.
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 or 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.
I was born on January 9th. Not the best time to be born if your birthplace happens to be the buckle on the snow belt, Buffalo, New York. Buffalo remained my home until I struck out on my own and managed to get 73 miles down the New York State Freeway to Rochester. My life took a turn for the better- better climate, better opportunities.
Writers of a certain vintage always seem to boast of the variety of interesting jobs they held before settling down to write. Jobs like fire breather on the Reforma in Mexico City, or turkey plucker. I have not done anything so exotic. Moving from present to past, I have been: a divorce lawyer, student, waitress, nurses’ aide, hospital admitting clerk, factory assembly line worker and child.
I live in Vancouver, B.C. and in Colima, Mexico. I have one husband, one daughter, three step-children, a German Shepherd, tropical fish and many over sexed parakeets. When in Mexico, I nurture my husband, and my vanilla vines. When in Vancouver I try to keep dry.