The Midwife of Venice

The Midwife of Venice

Book - 2011
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Set amidst the richness and squalor of the 16th-century Venice and Malta, the story of Hannah Ha-Levi, a midwife in the Jewish ghetto. When a Christian count seeks Hannah's help for his wife struggling in childbirth, she ignores the advice of her friends and, more importantly, the law that makes it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians. She needs the money to free her husband from his enslavement in Malta.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, ©2011
ISBN: 9780385668279
Branch Call Number: F RIC
Characteristics: 329 p. ; 21 cm.


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Aug 22, 2017

Story line is boring. But, the historical settings and the way that the Venetians lived makes it an interesting read.

Apr 01, 2017

While the book is not accurate about aspects of the Jewish ghetto the majority of the story is engaging and a quick read with a strong and clever female lead.

May 02, 2016

Our afternoon book club gave this book a 5.6. It was a pretty even split in that half the group quite enjoyed it and the other half really didn't. Those like/dislike meetings make for great discussion!

hershnatash May 20, 2013

This book is horrible. Most of the facts about Jewish Orthodox life are completely wrong and false. For example, "shadai" is one of the many names of G-d - NOT an amulet. Jews do not put their trust in amulets - only in G-d. Also, Jews in the ghetto DID NOT speak fluent Italian. They spoke Yiddish and Hebrew. There was not even a possibility that Jews had any desire to keep contact with any non-Jews. The author did NOT do a good job on the research aspect. This story would have NEVER happened - EVER - in any kind of history (even in parallel universes).
Go read a different book

Jan 16, 2013

A good read with interesting historic perspective. The husband's side of the story is implausible, and like many good stories the end seems to get rushed together to sum it up neatly. But I still enjoyed the history, having seen this area of Vencie, it was interesting to imagine the life of the people there at that time.

VaughanPLDaniela Nov 16, 2012


Oct 21, 2012

Although I read the book in it's entirety, it was only because it was so ridiculous and improbable. I would not recommend it.

Jun 26, 2012

If you like history you'll enjoy this though it is fiction but the premise could be real although it probably wouldn't have ended so happily in real times.

BPLNextBestAdults Jun 05, 2012

Hannah is a skilled midwife living in the Jewish ghetto in 16th century Venice. Her husband has been captured at sea and living as a slave in Malta. She is desperate to bring him home, but with no money, she is unable to do so. One evening, against her Rabbi’s wishes, she agrees to help a Christian woman during a difficult birth. Hoping to pay her husband’s ransom, she has been offered a great deal of money by the woman’s distraught husband. What ensues becomes a fast-paced historical thriller, where Hannah is running for her life from people who think nothing of destroying her life and the lives of her family. Great choice for historical fiction readers.

Mar 02, 2012

I found this to be only an 'okay' read and in particular found the ending to seem really rushed. I expected a lot more.

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racing14 Jul 06, 2011

Historical novels can open windows onto the past, shedding light on parts of society previously hidden from view. Already segregated because of their religion, and with their influence kept to the private sphere, the lives of Jewish women in Renaissance Venice were more concealed than many.

In her debut novel, Roberta Rich introduces a unique heroine, and her wry humour leavens a serious subject. Not wholly an intense social drama or an over-the-top adventure, The Midwife of Venice is a quirky yet diverting blend of both.

For those looking for a meaty historical novel that leaves no loose ends, this may not be the best book to choose. But if you might like seeing Jewish folklore and Mediterranean history wrapped into a rousing story, suspend your disbelief for a time and follow along with Hannah and Isaac as they fight their way back to one another.
"Reading the Past"

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