The Harem Midwife ~ Roberta Rich
Publisher: Doubleday CanadaPages: 320
Book Blurb:Hannah and Isaac return in this opulent, riveting, and suspenseful tale--a continuation of the hugely successful Midwife of Venice.
The Imperial Harem, Constantinople, 1579
Hannah and Isaac Levi, Venetians in exile, have set up a new life for themselves in Constantinople. Isaac runs a newly established business in the growing silk trade, while Hannah, the best midwife in all of Constantinople, plies her trade within the opulent palace of Sultan Murat III, tending to the thousand women of his lively and infamous harem. But one night, when Hannah is unexpectedly summoned to the palace, she's confronted with Zofia, a poor Jewish peasant girl who has been abducted and sold into the sultan's harem. The sultan favours her as his next conquest and wants her to produce his heir, but the girl just wants to return to her home and the only life she has ever known. What will Hannah do? Will she risk her life and livelihood to protect this young girl, or will she retain her high esteem in the eye of the sultan?
An adventurous, opulent and deliciously exciting read, peopled with fascinating, unforgettable characters (a court eunuch; the calculating sultan's mother-in-law; the beguiling harem ladies; and a very mysterious young beauty from Venice who shows up on Hannah's doorstep causing much havoc), this novel is sure to please fans of The Midwife of Venice and extend Roberta's reputation as one of Canada's most loved historical fiction authors.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Midwife of Venice – and I have to say that the sequel did not disappoint. A lot of “series” out there now a days, you really don’t always have to read book 1 before book 2 – not the case here. This is a true sequel, you need to have read The Midwife of Venice before picking up this novel. The Harem Midwife continues the story of Hannah Levi, a Jewish midwife, who now makes her life in Constantinople with her husband Isaac and her son Matteo.
Like in The Midwife of Venice Hannah is forced to make a difficult choice: use her skills to help another woman in need or protect her family. Only this time, there is another problem to deal with that threatens Hannah’s family.
Again, I am impressed with Ms. Rich’s writing. It is beautifully written and very well researched. The characters are all well developed and have a life-like quality to them. The scenery is vivid and fascinating. The descriptions are wonderful – you can see things, you can smell things, you can feel things!!! Love it! I absolutely loved the description of the palace and the harem rooms. Ms. Rich is able to describe the grandeur and opulence of life in the harem of Constantinople. From the lavish bathing rooms, the menagerie, the gardens, the marketplace and the streets of Constantinople – the details given make it feel as if you are there and you see what the characters are seeing.
The only problem I had with this story was the ending. It was just too simple, too neat. Other than that, I loved the book.