Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: The Midwife of Venice by Robrta Rich

The Midwife of Venice by Roberta Rich
Gallery Books
February 2012
Hannah Levi is a Jewish midwife in 16th century Venice.  Despite segregation of the Jews, her skills are known to all Jews and gentiles.  When a Venetian nobleman shows up in her ghetto, she knows he must be desperate to sidestep Papal Edict to ask a Jewish midwife to save his child.  Hannah would love to refuse his request and avoid any trouble for herself or her people.  However, several months before her husband was captured and was held for ransom.  Helping the Content could give her enough money to pay the ransom.
Of course she agrees to help with so much riding on her decision.  Ransoming Isaac is the most important thing;enough to make her more than willing to disobey both Catholic and Jewish law.
We also find out that Isaac is alive and struggling to his life as a slave.  A man who uses his wits he has difficulty adjusting to the physical labor of his new life.  Dodging all the attempts at forced conversion, he uses his wits to try to better his situation.
There are many twists and turns.  Thwarting laws are only the beginning of Hannah's problems.  Dragged into the intrigues of a Venetian noble family ,she crosses boundaries and makes alliances she never thought she would, sacrificing everything for Isaac.
This was a great debut novel.  Ms. Rich did a great job of building an authentic and historically correct 16th century Venice.  My only issue was the somewhat predictable plot and ending.  A sequel would be interesting since it could go anywhere.
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy

The Folded Earth: A Novel by Anuradha Roy
Free Press
April 2012    

 The Folded Earth is the story of Maya, a young woman who abandons her big city life and prominent past shortly after being widowed.  Already estranged from her family due to her mixed marriage to a Christian, she has little to keep her from escaping the city to begin anew in a rural mountain town close to where her husband died.
Having a teaching at a Christian school courtesy of her husbands priest, she can observe the town and its inhabitants in a different way than the other outsiders.  She is able to quickly make friends with her landlord, the last remnant of the local aristocracy.  The addition of his nephew to the household causes a subtle shift in the rhythm of life in the house. Political and religious issues in the background also cause tensions in several aspects of her life in ways she is unused to. Despite what she thinks life turns out to be just as complicated living an isolated life as it was dodging the past in the city.
Over the course of time, Maya begins to realize she may have more of a connection via her late husband with the nephew than he let on.  Realizing she has been taken advantage of, Maya makes a vengeful decision that affects the lives of several people close to her.  
Anuradha Roy is back with another great book.  Her last, The Atlas of Impossible Longing, gave us a look into the lives of multiple generations of an Indian family.  This book follows a young woman life after the death of the husband she gave everything up for.  I really like this book  I love Ms. Roy's way with words and the worlds she creates for her characters.  I look forward to future books from Ms. Roy.

** This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.           **