Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Harem Midwife - Roberta Rich

Roberta Rich's debut novel, The Midwife of Venice, was 'richly' received by reading audiences everywhere. I really enjoyed it (my review) and remember writing at the end of my review..." it ended too soon! But it looks like a sequel is in the works - I'll be picking it up for sure."

Well, that sequel - The Harem Midwife - is here. It's just as good as the first book and provided a lovely Sunday afternoon's read for me.

1578. Hannah and her husband Isaac have fled Venice and made a life for themselves in Constantinople. Hannah is a talented midwife and her skills have been noticed by the palace of Sultan Murat III. She is called to ascertain the purity of a new girl purchased for the harem. But Hannah feels pity for the young woman and lies. Will that lie be revealed and threaten everything Hannah and Isaac have together? Or will the threat come from a 'family' member with their own devious agenda?

I like historical fiction, but don't usually go this far back. However, Roberta Rich has changed my mind. She slowly and lavishly paints her settings with the sounds and sights of time and place vividly described. I learned so much from the details woven into her tale - not just of the Ottoman Empire, but of midwifery and Jewish life and customs.

Hannah is a great lead character - warm, caring and yes, fallible - and the reader becomes invested in her life. The love for her husband and depiction of their home life made her even more 'real.' I did question her lying to the palace and her friends' willingness to go along with her seemingly foolhardy plan, but this only added to the wonderful mix of history, suspense and romance Rich has again woven. Here's hoping there's a third book in the works! Read an excerpt of The Harem Midwife.

You can find Roberta Rich on Twitter and on Facebook.

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