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The Midwife of Venice (Midwife #1)

3.56 of 5 stars 3.56  ·  rating details  ·  8,170 ratings  ·  1,099 reviews
At midnight, the dogs, cats, and rats rule Venice. The Ponte di Ghetto Nuovo, the bridge that leads to the ghetto, trembles under the weight of sacks of rotting vegetables, rancid fat, and vermin. Shapeless matter, perhaps animal, floats to the surface of Rio di San Girolamo and hovers on its greasy waters. Through the mist rising from the canal the cries and grunts of for ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 8th 2011 by Anchor Canada (first published January 1st 2011)
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Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry JonesWhite Heart by Sherry JonesThe Taker by Alma KatsuThe Midwife of Venice by Roberta RichDancing on Broken Glass by Ka Hancock
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Aug 25, 2012 ruzmarì rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: nobody over the age and IQ of 13
With The Midwife of Venice, Roberta Rich has joined the hordes. By "hordes," I mean authors producing historical fiction about parts of the world that are legendary, which is to say mostly imaginary to them. Strangely, most are about 16th-century Italy, one region or another. Also, they tend to feature resourceful female protagonists whose pluck and daring gets them through the most unlikely adventures. There is usually some form of prejudice; a helper in the form of another social outsider (a r ...more
Danielle Rossman
The Midwife of Venice by debut novelist Roberta Rich is full of great historical facts and truly does reveal the seamy and seedy side of 16th Century Venice. I was so delighted to find a new Historical novel that moves quickly and is so accurate in its portrayal of the times without trying to recapture history, but rather crafting a fresh story with new and thoroughly interesting characterizations. I was also very intrigued to learn of the enslavement of Jewish people in Italy because it is so h ...more
Ena Hasečić
16. stoljeće: 2 paralelne priče - priča jevrejke Hane koja radi kao babica u Veneciji i njenog muža Isaka zarobljenog na Malti, priča o tome šta prolaze jedno bez drugog, pa sve do ponovnog susreta. Jako dobro, a posebno mi se dopalo to što je radnja jednim dijelom smještena u Italiji i to baš u 16. stoljeću - prava kombinacija za sve obožavatelje renesansne Italije :) ocjena 4 jer mi je u sličnoj tematici Marina Fioratto bolja, ali i za ovu ide preporuka!
Jan 30, 2011 Chris rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans who aren't squeamish about long, difficult childbirth scenes
Shelves: first-reads
I received The Midwife of Venice as a First-Reads giveaway copy.

The Midwife of Venice opens with a difficult and potentially very dangerous situation. Hannah, a Jewish midwife in Renaissance Venice, is approached by a Christian count to attend his wife, who has already been in labour for over two days. If she complies at all, she risks arrest for breaking the law against Jewish doctors and midwives attending Christian patients, although the law is sometimes ignored. If she complies and the mothe
This was a quick read and I liked some of the historical perspectives of life in 1500 Venice. However as other reviewers indicated, everything was a bit too black and white with herculean actions that became unbelievable for 1500 Venice.
Frankly, I only read this book because I was interested in the sequel. Now I'm nervous about the sequel.

This book follows Hannah, a Jewish midwife in Venice, as she tries to rescue her husband from slavery in Malta. Unfortunately, the book managed to be stressful and unpleasant without ever being suspenseful. This is in large part due to the complete lack of nuanced characters. Hannah and Isaac are good and pure and smart. Everyone else is eeeeeevil. No motives, no character, just evil. And the
Jennifer Rayment
The Good Stuff

Fast paced and intriguing, which surprised me
Likeable realistic characters that you cheer for that they will be able to overcome the obstacles and reunite
Storyline switches between Issac and Hannah's POV - which keeps you intrigued as many of the chapters end with an almost cliffhanger like ending and than it switches to the other character.
Didn't want to put the book down
Some beautiful touching moments that made me tear up
Author has a gift for making you see the landscape a
Just a really dreadful book, full of cliches and inconsistent characters. The narrative structure did not work at all. The alternating viewpoints between Hannah and Isaac were annoying since each one ended breathlessly with a dramatic cliffhanger: will she get the spoons back? Will Isaac convert to Christianity??
Truly, some of the worst drivel I've read in a LONG time!! It only adds to my despair that she is writing a sequel...
A fast paced page-turner of a historical novel about the triumph of love over adversity and pestilence.

Descriptions of 16th century Venice come alive, with stains, smells, garbage, sewage, excrement and blood—the underbelly of the city and its Jewish ghetto—evocatively drawn, although bombastic analogies such as sheep piss resembling “walking into the arsehole of a camel” did not compute for me.

The heroine, Hannah, a midwife living in the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, is determined to re-unite with h

Hannah ha-Levi, a midwife in the Jewish ghetto, is known throughout Venice for her skill in midwifery. When a Christian count appears at Hannah's door imploring her to attend his labouring wife who is near death, Hannah's compassion is tested. Not only is it illegal for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians, it's also punishable by torture ... and death. But Hannah cannot turn down the money. With such a handsome sum, she can save her own husband, Isaac, who was captured at sea and take
I received The Midwife of Venice as a free giveaway from Goodreads. The book I received was an uncorrected proof and will be on sale Feb. 2011. I don't think I've included any spoilers but reader beware! and I apologize if I've ruined something for you.

I enjoy a good historical fiction, although Italy and the 1600s are not what I would normally pick up. Oh, and I LOVE a happy ending! I thoroughly liked this book, it was easy to read with only a few sentences in Italian (which I found easy to t
Megan Baxter
Welcome to another edition of Megan's Damning With Faint Praise!

This book is fine. It is readable, it didn't piss me off, I enjoyed it while I was reading it. These are things I almost always say about books I liked but inspired me to no passion, one way or another. And it's true in this case as well.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire
This book was an easy read and kept my interest to the end. It was not a an intense social drama nor was it really an adventure story but a bit of both.

There were times when I had a hard time believing that Hannah could be so naive especially with regards to the uncles. There were a a number of plot points that were just a bit too contrived to make it a really good book but given that this is her first novel, it was interesting and fairly well constructed.

The pacing of the novel is spot on and f
The cadence of the words makes this historical fiction a nice, smooth read. Although the sentences are hypnotically smooth, the action is not. We are thrown right into the story and it doesn’t slow down. It’s an interesting mix.

The Midwife of Venice is about a Jewish woman living in a Ghetto in Venice during the 1500s. She is, of course, a midwife. During this time period, she was only allowed to help other Jewish women and was barred from helping Christians. Fortunately, or unfortunately, she b
Carla Ford
Loved this novel - I was able to completely fall for Hannah and sympathize with her as she follows her conscience and delivers a Christian baby, even though she is forbidden as a Jew to do so. She feels such a calling to use the talent she is blessed with and help relieve suffering if she is able. In trying to save the wife of a Christian count and his unborn baby, she knows that she is putting herself in danger, but she puts aside her misgivings and helps in the birth. She knows that if she is ...more
This is a book about choices. Hannah is a midwife, a Jewish midwife living in the Ghetto in Venice and she is known to be able to help woman have babies that would usually die. She has created a device that she calls her "birthing spoons" to help ease a baby into the world but that others would see at a tool of the devil. She is a woman far ahead of her time.

One night a man, a count no less comes pounding at the door to the Ghetto begging for the famous midwife to come help his wife. She has bee
Lou Allin
Historical novels are rare, and well-written historicals even rarer. Most surprising, this novel is Canadian. North of the border, we try harder, like Avis.

Sixteenth-century Venice during the plague. Hannah Levi is a Jewish midwife with a husband captured by the predatory Knights of St. John in far-off Malta. Foremost on her mind is how to pay his ransom. Then a miracle happens, promising both danger and salvation. She is asked to attend a difficult delivery for a wealthy Christian family. Succe
I read this book because Elle Fowler has read it. Granted that Elle Fowler enjoys reading YA, I should not have set my hopes too high for this one. I truly enjoy reading historical fiction as I like history. I love how historical fiction authors take the time to use what they've found in their research for that era and weave into a story.

This book did not do it for me. It was a really *really* light read. If you're looking for something to kill the time with a book that wouldn't make you laugh
Halle Farber
It's "Days of Our Lives" with an Italian accent ... completely implausible ... I kept thinking the evil Stefano was going to jump into the story and kidnap Bo or Hope. If I wasn't reading this for my book group, I'm not sure I would have pushed myself to finish it.

The plot was interesting enough, but real character development and emotional resonance were lacking. An example ... I don't want to give anything away, but it doesn't hurt to mention here that the heroine in the story is a midwife wh
Roberta Rich is an author who appears to eschew the conventional idea of tension-and-release. Bad events and circumstances continue to pile upon more of the same for poor protagonists Hannah and Isaac. Just when it seems things can’t possibly get any worse… oh no! – they do. Gruesome births, kidnapped babies and murder, oh my! And that’s only Hannah’s experience. Readers need (or at least I do) occasional reprieve from rising intensity. And it finally does come – but very abruptly in the form of ...more
Jessica James
Allow me to explain. I liked this book but I did not love it. It was fascinating from a historical point of view, Roberta Rich has done some painstaking research into her setting and the religious feuds and prejudices that existed at the time between the Jews and the Christians, especially in Venice. The story follows Hannah, a Jewish midwife from the ghetto, often compared throughout the novel to a timid mouse, who breaks the law by delivering the child of a Christian couple so she can earn eno ...more
“The Midwife of Venice” by Roberta Rich is the story of Hannah and Isaac Levi, a Jewish couple living in Venice. Hannah is a midwife and Isaac a trader. A Christian nobleman, asks Hannah to help his wife who has been in labour for two days. Hannah helps the Christian woman, against the counsel of her Rabbi who reminds her that for a Jew to render medical assistance to a Christian is against the law. As the story opens, Isaac has been captured in Malta and is enduring much suffering as a slave bu ...more
The idea has promise but the book doesn't deliver. The publisher presumptively adds discussion questions to the end of the book.

The story is full of inconsistencies, time line problems and oh so convenient answers.
For example, a wealthy family breaks the law by hiring a jewish midwife. If discovered, they could face prosecution. Yet for some unexplained reason they invite the midwife to dinner a month later, breaking the law again and the well established social norms - nobility do not socializ
This is not your typical midwife story. Granted it starts with a delivery of a baby. The Jewish midwife, Hannah is called to a Christian home to deliver the heir of a wealthy man. (Against the law)The Conte DePadovadi is desperate. Hannah has a secret instrument she had made and which she named her cupping spoons. This resembles a pair of modern forceps but in this time of history it is seen as witchcraft. Once the baby is safely delivered, Hannah is reluctant to leave, feeling a tug to the new ...more
This is one of the best historical novels I have read. I contains something for everyone within its pages.
It held my attention and kept me reading.
I thought I wouldn't like it because it was historical with religious themes...and it was a a first novel by Ms. Rich. But I enjoyed it a lot. I learned a lot from it about Being a Jew as well as a Christian during time in history. I also learned so much about being a midwife that I was not aware of before.
This novel has enough suspense to keep read
Really enjoyed this book. It is the story of a Jewish midwife named Hannah who lives in Venice in the 16th century. The story begins with a knock on Hannah's door in the middle of the night. A Christian nobleman has come to seek her services for his wife who has been labouring for two days. In that period of time, it is against the law for a Jew to provide medical services to a Christian. Hannah risks all in order to get enough money to pay a ransom for her husband Isaac, who has been sold into ...more
This novel is set in Venice in 1575. Hannah Levi is a well known and respected midwife. She is especially gifted with difficult births often using a device of her own design, birthing spoons. Hannah is Jewish and when a Christian count comes to her to help his wife she has to weigh the situation before helping them. The Pope has forbidden Jews to practice medicine on Christians. The count offers a sum large enough to enable Hannah to ransom her husband who was captured at sea and is being held i ...more
The bones of a good story are here, but as it is, this book was not a satisfying read. One-dimensional characters who did not develop at all, lack of thematic elements to bind the two separate storylines together, and a plot that lurched predictably from event to event to a weirdly anticlimactic climax and ending. The writing, however, was engaging, and I think this author has a good voice. She just needs to spend a lot more time developing a decent story.
First chapter was engaging...Venice, midwifery, treachery, etc. However, despite the fact that the author has polished "cliff hangers" too much of the story read like a synopsis to me rather than rich development of chacters and incidents. This is not a book that I will be recommending. In fact, parts of it were so underdeveloped I laughed. I wonder why it has been so popular in Canada.
Handsome cover....fooled me into thinking it was something of substance and I guess its marketed that way - comparison to The Red Tent, etc. But I didn't get it that way..or maybe I did and it just annoyed me. And I really disliked those alternate chapters on husband/wife/husband...such a transparent way for the author to just plod through the plot. Ugh.
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I was born on January 9th. Not the best time to be born if your birthplace happens to be the buckle on the snow belt, Buffalo, New York. Buffalo remained my home until I struck out on my own and managed to get 73 miles down the New York State Freeway to Rochester. My life took a turn for the better- better climate, better opportunities.
Writers of a certain vintage always seem to boast of the varie
More about Roberta Rich...

Other Books in the Series

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