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The Midwife of Veniceby Roberta Rich
Synopses & Reviews
Not since Anna Diamantand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;The Red Tentandlt;/Iandgt; or Geraldine Brooksand#8217;s andlt;Iandgt;People of the Bookandlt;/Iandgt; has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history. A and#8220;lavishly detailedand#8221; (andlt;Iandgt;Elleandlt;/Iandgt; Canada) debut that masterfully captures sixteenth-century Venice against a dramatic and poetic tale of suspense.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers using her secret and#8220;birthing spoons.and#8221; When a count implores her to attend his dying wife and save their unborn son, she is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but his payment is enough to ransom her husband Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can she refuse her duty to a woman who is suffering? Hannahand#8217;s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the child and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Told with exceptional skill, andlt;I andgt;The Midwife of Veniceandlt;/Iandgt; brings to life a time and a place cloaked in fascination and mystery and introduces a captivating new talent in historical fiction.
"In her U.S. debut, Rich successfully captures the seedy side of 16th-century Venice — the Jewish ghetto, the plague, the confluence of religious and legal authority — but stumbles with unevenly rendered main characters. Hannah, a midwife, and Isaac Levi are Venetian Jews. Isaac, a trader, is captured at sea and held for ransom in Malta by the Knights of St. John. Hannah is legally forbidden to treat Christians, but as a healer — and a woman suddenly in need of money — she cannot refuse the request of a high-born Venetian to help his wife give birth. Though she delivers the baby safely, the infant faces mortal danger and Hannah's involvement deepens, leaving her susceptible to charges of murder and witchcraft. To evade authorities, she must rely on her estranged sister, a courtesan. Meanwhile, Isaac languishes on Malta. His kidnappers sell him as a slave to a nun, who in turn sells him to a brutish peasant. Using his wits to survive (selling his writing skills and helping woo a beautiful woman), he escapes captivity, but his and Hannah's harrowing efforts to reunite are stymied at every turn. Both characters demonstrate intelligence, but only Isaac comes to full life: his thoughts, feelings, humor, and behavior leap off the page. Agent: Beverly Slopen, the Beverly Slopen Agency." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Elizabeth Loupas returns with her most ambitious historical novel yet, a story of intrigue, passion, and murder in the Medici Court...
April, 1574, Florence, Italy. Grand Duke Cosimo de Medici lies dying. The city is paralyzed with dread, for the next man to wear the red lily crown will be Prince Francesco: despotic, dangerous, and obsessed with alchemy.
Chiara Nerini, the troubled daughter of an anti-Medici bookseller, sets out to save her starving family by selling her dead fathers rare alchemical equipment to the prince. Instead she is trapped in his household—imprisoned and forcibly initiated as a virgin acolyte in Francescos quest for power and immortality. Undaunted, she seizes her chance to pursue undreamed-of power of her own.
Witness to sensuous intrigues and brutal murder plots, Chiara seeks a safe path through the labyrinth of Medici tyranny and deception. Beside her walks the princes mysterious English alchemist Ruanno, her friend and teacher, driven by his own dark goals. Can Chiara trust him to keep her secrets even to love her or will he prove to be her most treacherous enemy of all?
Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannahs choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. Not since The Red Tent or People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.
About the Author
Roberta Rich divides her time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Colima, Mexico. andlt;i andgt;The Midwife of Veniceandlt;/iandgt; is her first novel.
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