Monday, November 28, 2011

Midwife of Venice

Critics are comparing The Midwife of Venice to The Red Tent and The People of the Book. While I find the book fascinating, I don't find it as developed as the other two. But, it sort of taps into many of the main themes in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, which I always enjoyed teaching.

Hannah Levi is renowned for her gift of coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers' using her secret "birthing spoons." When a rich Count begs her to attend his dying wife and save their unborn son, Hannah is torn. A Papal edict forbids Jews from giving medical treatment to Christians, but he offers her a sum of money that will allow her to buy her husband out of slavery. She becomes entangled in the Counts' family rivalry which endangers the life of the child she saved.

As far as historical fiction goes, this book is rather lightweight, but, face it, with the holidays kicking up their happy heels, this is perfect reading for me. The author does an excellent job detailing Jewish laws that result in many inner conflicts that Hannah must resolve.

This book is set for release in February and would make a great book discussion title.

My big excitement over the weekend was visiting my friend Sherri's annual Christmas extravaganza. She starts decorating her house in June! Really. Every inch of her house, including her kids' bedrooms, are filled with cheer...lights, ornaments, pillows, candy, tree skirts and cheer. Now, the tree skirt comment may seem absurd, but, if you stop in the store when Debbie or Matt is working, they will confirm. Sherri has...ohhh...easily 500 tree skirts....and she gives the tour of her lavishly decorated home decked out for Christmas guessed it... a tree skirt!

Sherri has been decorating her house effusively for more years than I can count, and each year she invites friends in for a tour. I can't possibly begin to explain how over the top and happy this all is, so each year I try to take a few friends along. Last weekend, both Debbie and Matt said that I had not even come close to preparing them for the mayhem of color and visual eccentricities. I took a few pictures and if any show off the true spirit of Sherri and her home, I'll post them. If any of you know the lovely Rhonda from Heart-A-Rama, you will be delighted to learn that Sherri is her sister. All the girls in that family are so unique. Sherri has a Goldi Hawn vibe about her. Maybe next year you can come along!