Friday, 13 January 2012

The Midwife of Venice

Finished January 10
The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
This historical novel is set in Venice and Malta in the sixteenth century. Hannah Levi is a midwife in Venice, renowned for her skill in difficult births. Her husband Isaac is being held for ransom in Malta, caught as he was making a sea voyage to buy merchandise. After years of trying the couple has no children themselves. When Hannah is asked by a Christian nobleman to assist at a birth, she is torn between her humanitarian impulses to save lives and the papal decree against medical treatment by Jews to Christians. With the hope to obtain money to free Isaac, she decides to assist in the birth. This decision changes her life forever. Hannah has overcome her natural fear of risk to deliver this child, and must fight prejudice, criminal behaviour, and difficult circumstances to save her own life. Meanwhile in Malta, Isaac must fight against his natural argumentative tendency and work to save his own life with the skills he has as a literate, educated man.
The reader is sympathetic to Hannah and her plight, caught between a rock and a hard place as it were. Hannah's family history also comes into this story and her rabbi isn't presented in the best light. There are good and bad of every religious persuasion here and that adds to the realistic nature of the novel. A story of love, honour, and survival, this novel tells a good story.


  1. Sounds like a really good story.

    Thanks for posting your review on the European Reading Challenge page.

  2. It was a good story.
    Thanks for commenting.