Charles's Reviews > The Midwife of Venice

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

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Read from July 26 to 28, 2012

This is a bit of a melodramatic and uncomplicated story taking place in 15th century Venice. Hanna, a Jewish midwife in the Ghetto who has devised forceps to assist in difficult births&is renowned for her skills, is induced to assist at a difficult birth of a nobleman's wife, though it is illegal for Jewish midwives to deliver Christians, and this is a potential threat to her and the entire ghetto, to which the rabbi is strongly opposed. She defies him, to be of assistance&to earn 150 ducats which she needs to release her husband who has been captured as a slave on the Island of Malta, while on a business trip. Hanna manages to save the lives of both mother&child who both nearly die. The Conte&his wife, following the difficult delivery&her recovery go on a holiday, leaving the baby Matteo at home with the nurse who is breastfeeding him. Hanna discovers that his 2 uncles are planning to get rid of him, as they will inherit if he doesn't survive. She manages to save Matteo, killing 1 of the uncles in the process, and then fearful of the consequences, seeks refuge with her sister Jessica who is a Newborn Chrisian making a living outside the ghetto, as a courtesan. They are trapped by the plague in Jessica's house, where the latter is murdered by the surviving uncle. Hanna manages to get aboard a ship to Malta with Matteo surviving on the milk of a nurse in the service of a wealthy Turkish lady who becomes indebted to Hanna when she offers advice on avoiding another pregnancy. In Malta Isaac, Hanna's husband has several adventures, learns about the silk trade&gets a hold of silkworm eggs, and arranges a potential business with a nun who wants to fund assistance to the poor. However he has been sold to Joseph, a hardhearted man, who failing to obtain the love of a woman through Isaac's love letters, wants to sell him as a galleyslave. At the last minute Hanna arrives, ransoms him & they plan to make a new life in Constantinople where Jews are well treated.

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