The Harem Midwife
The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich is a novel about a Venetian Jew named Hannah, who moves to Constantinople with her husband in order to work was a midwife. Her tools have allowed her to provide successful deliveries for women during labor. Her talents invite her to the Royal Palace where she oversees the birth of the Sultana’s children. The Sultana only has one son who is sick, and without another male heir, the empire could crumble. The Sultan becomes attracted to a slave girl with bright green eyes. Hannah has to inspect her, and discovers that she has many dangerous secrets.
This was mostly an enjoyable book. At first, I was really interested in the story and its intrigue, but as I got through the narrative, it became clear to me that I knew how it would end.
I liked that the writer choose to create a story in a unique time and place: 16th century Constantinople. The height of the Ottoman Empire. Jews and Christians living under Muslim rule. Rich did a lot of research to create the scene and include important points about the culture; however, many of the mentions were poorly done. I felt the writing style wasn’t very sophisticated, which was why it annoyed me.
This was an airplane read for me, a kind of light literature. It was interesting, and I could always get into it, but I have no interest in reading any of Rich’s other novels.