Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The River Midnight” as Want to Read:
The River Midnight
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The River Midnight

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  516 ratings  ·  77 reviews
Listen. You can hear the excitement in the village square, the flimsy stalls piled high with everything, and in the center Misha the midwife laughing. She holds safe all the secrets of the village, including the name of the man who has fathered her unborn child.When Misha was a girl she danced in the woods with her friends, the four vilda hayas, the wild creatures as they ...more
Hardcover, 414 pages
Published January 11th 1999 by Scribner Book Company (first published November 5th 1998)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The River Midnight, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The River Midnight

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,034)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Dawn (& Ron)
Jun 21, 2012 Dawn (& Ron) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in Jewish life, lost cultures, early 20th century
I really didn't know what to expect with this read, but found myself swept away to a different time and place and enchanted by the lost shtetl culture. It had a feeling that I can only describe as a realistic fairytale, blending real life with folk lore, history with spirituality, connecting the past with the future, and mixing it all together with warmth, humor, love and a touch of magic. I can only imagine how it would resonate with those whose ancestors may have come from a shtetl community.

Sonia Gomes
As a young person I have read books about Jews in Europe during WWII, their lives filled me with such sorrow, it still does, but did I ever think of them as 'people'. No, never, I only thought of them as victims of a terrible war.
And then comes Nattel, with her beautiful book, a tiny village with each character a special person, each character narrating their life in a special voice. Was it boring that every person told the same story? No chance, there are so many layers to each episode, so man
Mar 06, 2008 Anastasia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists, those interested in Jewish history
I really liked this book. Wonderful character pieces all set in the same village (or shtetl-- a new word I learned) in a common time period. It was neat to read about various quotidian events from the perspectives of a variety of characters. Loved Misha the midwife!
Jennifer Lauren Collins
As much a look into history as it is a piece of transporting entertainment, Nattel's The River Midnight brings to life the men and women of a shtetl northwest of Warsaw. Weaving small-town gossip with frightening politics, the concerns of a small town with individuals in hope and in mourning, and half-dreamt magical realism with hard-pressed reality, the novel is a layered masterpiece, and well worth reading.

In Blaszka, this fictional village of Polish Jews, everything is paramount. Meticulously
This is a book I found a bit slow to start, could very well have been my state of mind. However, when I finished the book I actually missed the characters. If you find it slow, don't give up!!!
Before starting this review I read a few other reviews that shared my feelings. I was charmed by this book of Polish shtettle life in the nineteenth century. What I loved most about this tale was the way the story is woven together from the perspectives of the various characters. Sometimes events are retold, each time from the point of view of the different shtettle character. This gives the work greater depth and allows the reader to understand the events more fully than would have been otherwi ...more
I must confess, I am quite undecided as to how I feel about "River Midnight".

On one hand, I find it interesting how the story unravels with the addition of each person's story. The reader gains insight into their views, thoughts and knowledge of the events unfolding as it relates to them.

On the other hand, I felt somewhat annoyed throughout the book to have to read the same story over and over again, from what feels like the beginning.

As I get to the end of the book, I find that there isn't a s
I loved this book -- a mixture of magic, mystery and history, set in the fictional Polish town of Blaszka in 1894. I couldn't stop hearing music from Fiddler on the Roof, as the lives of the women and their families unfold in terrible times. The layering of the narrative is very effective; the story is picked up and told from different perspectives, repeating and filling in missing details as the central story becomes clearer with each point of view.
This is an unusual book. First it is set in 1893. Second it is set in a small Jewish village in Poland. Add to this that the story is told multiple times from various perspectives and you have a very interesting tale. This book is a work of historical fiction set in a non-existent village along a non-existent river but it is based on the history Poland in the late 19th century.

This writer has the gift of tone and setting much like Laura Ingalls Wilder. By the time you have read the first page yo
It took me a while to get the structure of the story, but once I did I was hooked. I still think of this book and the look into Jewish life that it gives. It has helped me to know of life then as I would not otherwise have known, and I am thankful for that.
This was a great debut novel by Nattel. It takes place in the late 19th century in a small Jewish shtetl in Poland. The story was thought provoking, as most of my experience in that genre was during the World War II era. There is a lengthy glossary which helps with many of the Yiddish workds, although you can follow the story easily through the word's context.

This is a story of the friendship of 4 strong women and how they grew up and apart from each other (in some ways.) It is the kind of story
I loved this book! It is beautiful and human and completely enchanting. Each chapter follows a different character's life over the same period of time. While this could result in a tedious re-telling of the same events over and over again, each person's life is so unique that the overlapping moments are subtle and often brilliant. Even a major event which affects the entire shtetl looks different each time depending on how it impacts an individual's life. Conversations between two characters can ...more
This was really a 4 star book. There were just too many micro problems with it to give it four stars. I found the novel was unnecessarily long and plagued with poorly written passages. The ending was also kind of lackluster. Besides that, The River Midnight is probably one of the greatest books you'll read regarding the intricacies and day-to-day lives of the now extinct Jewish shtetl. Nattel does a really good job at showing both the masculine and feminine (mostly this) perspectives of her char ...more
This was a beautiful book. I really enjoy "Jewish literature", if you will. I just feel tied to it at such a core level. I'm sure this has to do with ancestry on my paternal side. This story was fascinating. It covered the same few months but from many different people's perspective and with each new perspective we also gained insight into their past and future. The story felt almost tangible to me, like I was holding different pieces in my hand...weaving it into something beautiful yet practica ...more
Helen Byrne
The perfect book to get me back into enjoying reading again. It took a while to get going but I throughly enjoyed it. It was a little bit 'different', with its historical/magical elements but that made for a more interesting read. I particularly liked the academic feel to the book with the yiddish dictionary and recommend reading section at the back. I will look out for more of this authors books and would definitely recommend this one :)
Christine Parker
A simple tale told on a repeated time line with something of the folk legend about it. A strangely mesmerising read.
From the perspective of descending from women like this, in small towns and villages of Poland, this was a fascinating story to read. The plot was interesting - lots of interwoven personal stories in a vignette of village life, with good character development. It wasn't an edge of your seat thriller by any means and though it took me a seriously long time to read, when I did read it, I plowed through pages wondering what could possibly come ahead, simultaneously wondering why it had me intrigued ...more
Suanne Laqueur
Oh I loved loved loved this book...
Linda Hali
Such a beautiful book - History/folkore/realtionships of shtetl life with a retelling of events one after the other from male/female/angel perspective. Timelessness of this tiny village (turn of 20th C Poland) is running against sophisticated intellecutal and industrial change in big city Poland and the Labor Movement in NYC. Time for a reread. I always find it particularly moving to read over the High Holiday season. It has a wonderful spiritual wake up within the story.This was a first novel- ...more
I loved this book. It took a while to get in to it and some parts I read more slowly than others but it was truly enjoyable.
There was a little suspense that urged towards the end but mostly I enjoyed the gentle Jewish rhythm, getting to know all the characters in the village according to the festivals of the year. My favourite characters were Haim and Alta-Fruma but I would be happy to meet all the people of Blaszka, especially the women.
The best way I can describe this book is to say that it is
amazing, i loved it
Beautiful story but it took so long to get going.
Diane Schuller
Very enjoyable. Beautiful descriptions, figurative language (but not purple prose), and an array of senses on the page. A lovely tale of love, friendship, set in a different time and culture (Poland). It touches on almost fairy tale status at times.

It used time as a trickster, reaching far into the past and spinning toward the future. Definitely recommended reading. This is one I've told friends and family they must read.

Jun 06, 2007 Nicole rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone that likes fiction where the women are powerful
Shelves: fiction
I read this for a gender relations class, and I just reread it recently (2007). I love the way it tells the same story from the perspective of all characters, and how it separates them into a woman's and man's section. It's gender binary just like the society they live in. This binary is explored throughout the book, in 1800s (I think) Poland. There's one really strong female character who defies conventions and is wonderful.
This was a difficult book to read because of the jumping back and forth across time. There was a lot of repetition in order to help the reader determine where they were in time. I realized even as I read this that there was a point to writing this way, but it was still annoying and made for a slow read. However, the ending made it all worth it. Great ending, great writing, and a great point.
Good story, like a Chagall painting come to life. The problem with it is that there are too many points of view and parts of the book are confusing. The beginning and the last 100 or so pages (which I'm on now) are pretty good, but going through the middle wasn't always a pleasure. But its worth picking up if you're interested in reading about a shtlel in Poland in the late 19th century.
Kristine Morris
Nattle writes about the events of the year 1894 in a Jewish town in Poland - each section from the perspective of a different character. Each story neatly interwoven with the others. This book along with Galore by Michael Crummey joins myth with reality which I really like. I also like that even this is a Canadian author the book was not depressing. What a pleasant surprise!
I loved this book, but then, I love Judaic novels. The characters in this book came to life for me, both the "then" and the "now.". I read it several years ago, and I want to read it again. My 70-year-old mind remembers a Golem (Golem stories always grab me!) which hasn't been referred to directly in reviews, so I feel the need to return to Blaszka to find him myself.
While I have read books about Jews in Europe during WWII, I hadn't ever read a novel about times previous to that. I liked how this book told the same story from three perspectives: the women, the men and the midwife. Perhaps it was good that I read this just prior to going to a birth. It reminded me that humor sometimes helps in the very last bit.
This is the second time I've read this book, and while it still holds up, has great historical detail and characters, I found myself a little bored with the structure this time. I skipped most of the men's chapters and skipped right to Misha the midwife, my favorite character. Satisfying, but I think I will pass this book onto someone else now.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 34 35 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi
  • The Ghost of Hannah Mendes
  • Girls Fall Down
  • Wild Life
  • The Autobiography of God
  • The Midwife
  • Spirits of the Ordinary: A Tale of Casas Grandes
  • The Veil of Illusion
  • In the Image
  • The Best Place on Earth: Stories
  • Seven Blessings
  • Traplines
  • Kaaterskill Falls
  • Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews
  • A Seat at the Table: A Novel of Forbidden Choices
  • Consolation
  • Days of Awe
  • The Books of Rachel
Women's friendship and courage, the way history unfolds in the present, and the redemptive power of sharing secrets - these are my themes. I see literature as a partnership between author and reader. I put my vision on the page and you, the reader, bring to it your own perceptions, experiences and insight. Together we create a new book with each read. And this journey together can continue through ...more
More about Lilian Nattel...

Share This Book