Sunday, December 15, 2013
The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
3.0 out of 5 stars - Intrigue and treachery...
Hannah is a midwife in Venice, a Jewish woman living in the ghetto area there. Her husband, Isaac, has recently left on a ship to Constantinople with silk to sell and the intent to return to his wife with the profits and some spices. Unfortunately, his ship is highjacked by those in the pay of the Knights of Malta and he is captured and sold as a slave. Hannah desperately needs the money to ransom him so when a rich count begs her to attend his laboring Christian wife, Hannah cannot refuse though a Papal edit forbids a Jewess from attending a Christian. She successfully delivers the baby with the help of her special spoons (forceps) and the drama begins.
This one barely earns 3 stars from me. I was eager to read this debut historical fiction set in Venice and Malta circa 1575 but ended up being disappointed by the poorly depicted characters and their lack of depth. I also did not like the "she said, he said" alternating points of view of Hannah in Venice and Isaac in Malta. The chapters had cliffhanger endings, another irritating thing that made the narrative choppy. The story is predictable with the ensuing and somewhat unbelievable situations that Hannah and Isaac find themselves in and, of course, find ingenious ways to get out of on their journey back to each other.
I read this because I have a copy of the second book in this series and wanted to get all the background. I'll be reading the sequel - The Harem Midwife: A Novel -- shortly.