Category Archives: books
I read this book in two days. I could not put it down.
I happened upon a recommendation from Eat, Live, Run and downloaded it to my Kobo right away. From there I was hooked. This book is a real treasure, in my opinion.
The story revolves around two young Czech teenagers who meet and fall in love in the years before the Nazi Reich took power in Prague. Lenka and Josef are so interesting to unravel. The way they fall in love in this book is epic. I just devoured their romance, courtship, and marriage all in the eve of the Nazi tanks rolling in. Josef marries her and tries to convince her to follow him and his family to America while they still can, but Lenka wouldn’t dream of leaving her family. The rest is very much everything you’ve read about the holocaust. Death, destruction, loss of hope. Except for the art. This novel is interlaced with the idea that art will survive. Art existed in the camps. It was something that helped those people carry on. And as an artist, this is what made me cry more than anything.
We all get upset or cry at the images or stories of the concentration camps, but I find after a while, we can kind of steel ourselves to those thoughts. What really got me about this book was the hope that art brought these people. The painting done by children who dreamed of their old lives, or the pictures hastily painted in blood of the events that took place inside; something that could get you killed, or worse.
I loved this book.
The Midwife of Venice is set in Venice (duh) during the 1500s. The main character, Hannah, is a young Jewish midwife who has invented a really early version of forceps which she calls “birthing spoons”. It’s such an interesting look into that time period. The setting is beautifully described by the author, Roberta Rich, you feel like you’re there with her. The plot revolves around the conflicts between the Christian and Jewish faith at the time. A Jewish woman was forbidden to help a Christian woman in birth. But Hannah’s reputation is such that the Christian nobility seek her out. What follows is a story of true love, trust, friendship, and above all, fighting for what you feel is right.
Apparently, I have a bit of a theme going lately with the two books about midwifery in a row. I’m really enjoying learning about how women actually made it through birth back then. One crazy tidbit I learned about in this book was called “crocheting” a baby. As I understood it, if the baby was fatally stuck in the birth canal, and the momma was going fast, they would send a hook up there and hook to baby out by the skull then use a silk cord to literally pull the baby apart limb from limb out of the womb. Obviously, this was a very last chance device that was used. And of course, it would have been a horrific experience for all involved. Birth is no joke. I can’t imagine…
Anyways… on a happier note. I would totally recommend this book if you’re into history, Italy, women’s issues enthusiasts, or just general LOVE CONQUERS ALL kind of stories.
I got the hot pink one. In an awesome faux book cover! What can I say, I love to read. We’ve been joking that I might leave him for Kobo. It already has it’s own personality…
I love it so far. It’s quick and easy to get books into the library, and with the crazy amount of Chapters gift cards I got from my “inlaws” I haven’t paid a cent for the 3 books I’ve read since receiving it! Most recently, I read:
The Birth House is set in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia in and around the early 1900s. Written by Canadian writer, Ami McKay, it’s a great look at what life was like in rural East Coast Canada, specifically, with regards to women’s issues. The main character is a midwife who is being constantly challenged by a new, local “Doctor” who wants to force the local women to travel to his institution and endure his “new, safe measures” for modern birth. Like being completely put under and having their babies pulled out of them, only to wake up and not remember a single thing. WHAT? It’s crazy how far our process of birth has come and yet it seems so similar to what these women were fighting for: the right to choose what to do with their OWN bodies. And often, the tried, tested, and true method of birthing; surrounded by women, without too much intervention (unless, of course, there’s a problem) is what women will fight for.
If you’re interested in this topic, or many others, like the Halifax Explosion, the First World War, or Boston in this time (the Boston Molasses Flood.. what? a crazy event I’d never heard of before), I’d highly recommend having a read of this book. It’s not a long book, so it flies by with a little bit of a love story cooking along in the background.
Also, I watched a fantastic documentary called “The Business of Being Born” that talks a lot about the same subject; how women have had the power of birth taken away from them.
I think they would make an amazing little pair just for your own learning pleasure, or that of a book club!
Can you imagine what it must have been like to give birth back then? Miles from the closest “hospital”, with only the local midwife and the women of the area around for help.