THE ADVOCATE V O L . 7 5 P A R T 4 J U L Y 2 0 1 7 603
By R.C. Tino Bella*
A Trial in Venice by Roberta Rich. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2017.
Paperback; 368 pages. $24.00.
Reviewed by David Roberts, Q.C.
This is the third and last book in the trilogy written by Roberta Rich. I say
it is the last because Rich herself says so. She is now working on a fourth
novel that is about as far removed as you can get from 16th-century Venice,
which is the century in which the trilogy is rooted. Her next novel is centred
in Lower East Side New York of the 1920s; I cannot wait to read it. Many
practitioners will remember Roberta Rich as a family lawyer who practised
in the Lower Mainland before turning her hand to best-selling historical
As is so with any novel that runs to more than one book, it is essential to
have read the first two books The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife
before embarking on A Trial in Venice. My review of The Harem Midwife
appeared at (2013) 71 Advocate 934.
The trilogy is fiction, historical fiction. However, Roberta Rich has evidently
conducted extensive research into life in 16th-century Venice. The
author lays out at the end of the book an extensive list of books she has
consulted. Slyly termed “further reading”, it is, in fact, a bibliography. From
this small library she has extracted an intriguing array of facts about 16thcentury
life including the nature of the contraceptives used by whores of
that era and how to make soap and night cream used by medieval ladies.
Recipes for both the soap and the cream are found at the end of the book.
Since the heroine of the three novels is a Jewish woman, the midwife
Hannah Levi, the books contain a fascinating description of the lives of the
Jews who inhabited the Venetian ghetto and the conflict between the Chris-