Published: February 25, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction
Recommended for readers who enjoyed The Midwife of Venice
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?
I went into this book not knowing it was the second in a series. However, I did not feel it is necessary to read The Midwife of Venice to be able to follow this novel, as the plot stood alone quite well. I don't know much about the Ottoman Empire during this time, so I enjoyed reading Rich's descriptions of Constantinople. I think Rich did an admirable job of describing some of the trials of a minority group in a powerful empire.
While I felt that the overall plot was good--the book did keep my interest--I was disappointed in the conclusion. I mean, it wasn't what the conclusion was that bugged me, but how it was handled. Too many pieces of the story fell together too easily for me to find it believable. Everything is resolved in the last 2 pages...really! I wish Rich would have paced this book a bit better and let things evolve more naturally.
All in all, this was a quick read. And it has made me want to read The Midwife of Venice, although I'm not ready to say that I will read any further books in this series just yet.
I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.