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A Woman’s Calling June 18, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in historical fiction.
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MediaMonday for June 18, 2012: Is Fiction Changing? Read the conversation in the New York Times Room for Debate, then joins us in #litchat at 4-5 p.m. E.T. to discuss.

Roberta Rich in #litchatThe latter half of the last century opened doors to women in business, science and academia, allowing women to achieve positions of authority, prestige and prosperity. Yet, women have always worked. The jobs they held were deemed fit only for women:  teaching young children, nursing, cooking, domestic services, midwifery. This Wednesday in #litchat we’re looking at fiction which features strong women who dominated their traditionally female jobs. We’ll follow on Friday, June 22, with Roberta Rich, author of the historically rich novel, The Midwife of Venice.

Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers—a gift aided by the secret “birthing spoons” she designed. But when a count implores her to attend to his wife, who has been laboring for days to give birth to their firstborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from rendering medical treatment to Christians, but the payment he offers is enough to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea. Can Hannah refuse her duty to a suffering woman? Hannah’s choice entangles her in a treacherous family rivalry that endangers the baby and threatens her voyage to Malta, where Isaac, believing her dead in the plague, is preparing to buy his passage to a new life. The Midwife of Venice transports readers intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history.

The Midwife of Venice is Roberta Rich’s first novel. Through the years she has been a divorce lawyer, student, waitress, nurses’ aide, hospital admitting clerk, factory assembly line worker and child. She lives with her husband in Vancouver, B.C. and in Colima, Mexico.

Follow Roberta Rich on Twitter: @robertaannrich

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