Hannah, the heroine of this novel, is a gifted midwife who lives in the Jewish ghetto of Venice in 1575. Isaac, her husband, was captured at sea while on a business trip and sent to Malta to be sold into slavery. Now he is awaiting ransom by the Venetian Jewish community. Hannah is paid a secret visit by a count, who wants her to help his deathly ill wife deliver their baby. Because of an edict against Jews giving medical treatment to Christians, Hannah’s rabbi forbids her to go; she would risk not only her own life but also the position of the entire Jewish community if she helps the countess. Hannah asks the count for an enormous sum of money if she successfully delivers the baby, in order to ransom her husband. Although the count is kind to Hannah, his brothers and servants are openly hostile. Jews are the scapegoats for everything that goes wrong for the Christians, and now the plague is returning to Venice. Though a tad dramatic, this tale of adventure and heroism under dire circumstances is an enjoyable read, filled with rich details about this period in Venetian history.
The Midwife of Venice
Miriam Bradman Abrahams is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-raised, Long Island-residing mom. She is Hadassah Nassau’s One Region One Book chairlady, a freelance essayist, and a certified yoga instructor who has loved reviewing books for the JBC for the past ten years.
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