Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Quick Review: The Midwife of Venice
Hannah Levi is renowned for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers using her secret “birthing spoons.” When a Christian 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 the count’s payment is enough to ransom Hannah’s husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can she refuse her duty to a woman who is suffering? Hannah’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.
I really didn't expect to like this book as much as I did! It's not my usual cup of tea, but I still was impressed by the summary. This felt like the classic, "bucking authority" kind of story that I usually like, just set in the 1500's. Hannah knows what she has to do to save her husband, and so she does it. She risks her life and all the lives of the Jews in her ghetto, all for the love of her husband, Isaac. Isaac, does what he has to, as a slave, to get back to his beloved Hannah. I found this heartwarming and sweet. A bit too sweet, to be honest. Yes, Hannah is a skilled woman. She knows how to give birth to babies, but in that time period, if a woman was barren she was nearly worthless. I'm sure there were exceptions, but that fact was a bit hard to swallow. Maybe I'm a cynic? :( I hope not. The book was decent, and a quick read. It kept my attention all the way up til the end, which was a bit too saccharine for my taste. The book wrapped up a bit too neatly for it to be believable.