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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.

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The Midwife of Venice
Average rating
4.3 / 5
January 26th, 2014
I bought this book because I enjoy historical fiction. The fact that this story is about Jewish history was a bonus. This book is very light and entertaining reading. Roberta Rich knows how to create suspense through constant twists in her plot. The problem for me was that her plot twists were too farfetched, not believable. I enjoyed the basic premise of the story, but it came across to me as romantic fantasy rather than as historical fiction. I know that there is a huge market for this kind of writing, but I would not recommend this book to a serious reader. I finished the book only because I paid for it, it was suspenseful reading, and it was a fairly short read.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
I loved the story of the Midwife and her invention of the birthing spoons, thought to be the instrument of a witch. I like a book that takes me into another time and relays history through fictional characters. Roberta Rich is masterful using this technique. I have read The Glassblower of Marano. The Midwife is another aspect of this period in Venice and expands on my understanding of the people and politics of this period. Rich's characters are well developed, the language is beautifully descriptive, and the suspense is very well depicted. I recommend this novel to all who appreciate historical fiction.
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1 review
January 23rd, 2014
It's always a challenge to read a work of fiction that parallels your own life and work. Roberta Rich expertly weaves fact and fiction in a captivating and engaging story! I can't wait to read the next one!
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1 review
October 4th, 2013
I am not much of a reader but when I started this book I just couldn't put it down.I read the whole book In one day! I recommended this book to all my friends and family! Definitely a must read! :)
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1 review

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