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The Midwife of Venice (Midwife #1)

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  9,999 Ratings  ·  1,230 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. Seeping refuse on the streets renders the pavement slick and the walking treacherous.

It was on such a night that the men came for Hannah.

Hannah Levi is famed throughout Venice f
Paperback, 341 pages
Published February 16th 2012 by Ebury Press (Fiction) (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement.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
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
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!
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.
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“Odd that you should choose to be a midwife, having never experienced birth yourself.”

In other circumstances the words would have stung. She thought, Do not physicians provide medicaments for illnesses they have never suffered? But Hannah held her tongue. Two in her care were suspended between life and death. She had more important matters to worry about.

I want to start with a caveat: I don't tend to read historical fiction, and if I did, I wouldn't be looking for historical fiction built aro
Jan 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Vicky Ziliaskopoulou
Του βάζω κάτι ανάμεσα σε δύο και τρία αστέρια.
Μου φάνηκε ότι ήταν λίγο "περιληπτικό" όσον αφορούσε την πλοκή, δεν είχε ένταση αν και θα έπρεπε με όλα αυτά που συνέβησαν. Προσπάθησε να στριμώξει τα ιστορικά στοιχεία που ήθελε δεμένα σε μια ενιαία ιστορία και τα κατάφερε, αλλά δεν μπόρεσε να μου μεταφέρει συναισθήματα. Η μόνη ένταση που κατάφερε να μου μεταφέρει αφορούσε μυρωδιές (και μπράβο της, δεν θυμάμαι σε άλλο βιβλίο να κατάφερε κάποιος να περιγράψει μυρωδιές τόσο καλά που να είναι σαν να τ
Jan 02, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Carla Ford
Jan 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Apr 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-loetud
Kirjutan raamatust blogis
Feb 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Faith Justice
Feb 08, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Chose this book to read on a long plane trip because it was short and I needed something light to divert me--in that it succeeded. I had higher hopes for the book: an interesting setting and a strong protagonist. However, I found the writing rushed, the plot twists strained (some to implausibility), and the characters insufficiently developed. I read the ebook version and was totally surprised when it ended. I thought I had another 30-40 pages to go. I felt the book needed a few more pages to de ...more
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
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
“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
Lou Allin
Nov 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 08, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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

Midwife (3 books)
  • The Harem Midwife
  • A Trial in Venice

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“Odd that you should choose to be a midwife, having never experienced birth yourself.” In other circumstances the words would have stung. She thought, Do not physicians provide medicaments for illnesses they have never suffered?” 1 likes
“It is not natural to withhold love from a child.” 1 likes
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