Whenever I’m looking for something to read, I want it to grab me in the first few paragraphs and then take me away. If that idea appeals to you, then I have a book for you!
The Midwife of Venice, by Roberta Rich, does just that and more. Set in Renaissance Italy, it is the story of Hannah and Isaac who live in the ghettos of Venice.
Hannah is a midwife and Isaac a trader (of sorts). Now in those days ( th 16th century), the Catholic Church was very rich and politically strong, dictating how and where people would live, and generally, overseeing how things would happen. The society worked almost like feudal England, with the gentry, and the working class and the peasants all in their own respective parts of the city, and the church watching all the different classes, making sure that there was no integration. In Venice though, with it’s canals making up the greater method of transportation, the gentry lived at upper streams so that the garbage and filth could wash away from their waterfront. The Jews and “others” were just tolerated and lived downstream where the canals stunk of sewage, garbage, and anything else that was strewn into the waterways. It was an abysmal existence.
It was from this existence that Isaac set out to make his way in the world and bring Hannah to a better way of life. He had a plan to get out of the ghetto, by using what little funds they had, to purchase goods to sell in Turkey and then continue from there with spices to be sold along his route. Hannah did not want Isaac to leave, because even though their existence wasn’t perfect, they were happy together.
Isaac has other made up his mind that he is going and Hannah is left behind to look after their meager home.
I won’t give up too much of the story, because I really want you to read it. Suffice it to say that the book is full of suspense, intrigue, blackmail, murder, and love. It is well written and will transport you back to the times of slave-trading, pirates on the high seas, and the difficulties between different cultures, races and religions.
The Midwife of Venice does not disappoint the reader in any way, other than I personally wanted to hear more about the trials and tribulations of Hannah and her Isaac. I guess I will be getting the second book The Harem Wife, written by Roberta Rich also.