As far as historical fiction goes, I've read better and I've read worse. I liked some elements of the book, particularly the witchcraft and Inquisition angle. However, this book had a romance novel feel about it that I just wasn't that fond of. Maybe it was the way it was written or maybe I'm just not a fan of romance novels; I'm not really sure. Tobsha Learner is kind of like Philippa Gregory Lite. Similar style but not as compelling. I'd give this one 3/5.
A disappointment. The historically-based events kept me turning pages, but the prose has no charm, the characters' development is not nuanced and their motivations sometimes completely nonsensical. The author's depiction of Jewish life at the time is extremely weak, a huge drawback, since the main character is a Jewish woman who finds "the love of her life" in a Catholic canon. The main characters are anachronisms; modern people plunked into the 17th Century setting. Although the time periods are different, if you compare this book to Philippa Gregory's "The Queen's Fool" which follows a Jewish woman at the Elizabethan court (also something of a "bodice ripper" with an unusually modern Jewish woman heroine) you can see the difference it makes to follow a well-developed character. Jewish life described in the Witch of Cologne is so stereotyped and incomplete it really amazed me. Elements of this book I would have thought would make it good: kabbala, the demon Lilith, midwifery, era in history, iconoclastic main characters, sex - but, despite these...cannot recommend.
Ignore the silly cover on this book. What was the publisher thinking? This is a well-written, tragicthough ultimately hopeful story of star-crossed lovers during a particularly brutal period in history. The kind of story that haunts you. It is romantic--but not light, with great historical detail. Wonderful.
Yes, the style of writing is a bit unconventional. Yes, there are sex and torture scenes and they are graphic. Yes, the Kabbalah takes a back seat less than 1/3 of the way through the novel. And, yes, the cover art is disconcerting. Get over it! This book isn't a romance by any stretch of the imagination and, quite frankly, if 17th century German politics aren't your thing, you will be sorely disappointed by The Witch of Cologne. However, if you're willing to keep an open mind, you just might learn a little something about the melding of the philosophies, religions, and economics of the people of the Rhenish region. Love story be damned, this book is not so much about the relationhsip between the two main characters as it is about a war between what is politically comfortable and what is morally just. Read this novel for what it is, not what you wish it to be, and you'll come away from it both entertained and pleased.
I couldn't finish this book. I gave up after about 100 pages. The story starts out good, taking the reader right into a tense scene. After that, it became highly detailed and I found the writing to be very bland. I was bored silly. I was also fairly unfamiliar with the setting during this time period, and a lack of comprehension probably added to the feeling of tedium.
Story about a midwife during the 16th century who is branded a witch for her medical skill & knowledge, & her Jewish background. Love story intertwined made it an enjoyable read. I finished it in a week. Hard to imagine what women endured back then.... I couldnt have done it.
Very intersting view of effects of religious power and politics, prejudice, and money in 17th century Germany and how two people of different faiths alter their lives to stay together. Beuatiful and traqic.
A dark setting during the early years of the what later became known as the "Age of Enlightenment," this is an historical romance which leans toward eroticism: the story of an intelligent woman pursued by a man of the cloth who, rejected by her, pursues and persecutes her over time. The story line and the main character's adventures keep your interest, although I found the book to be a bit too long and melodramatic for my owns tastes.
I found this book to be somewhat disappointing in the end. It was a tragic romance novel. The final years we dealt with so superficially, and for Jacob to make the monumentous decision without knowing him, well was disappointing.
This is an excellent work of historical fiction with true history added. The descriptions and portrayal of life in the 1600s along with alluring characters and eroticism is exquisite.
It is definitely a page turner for me and I recommend it to anyone who loves historical fiction.
This is a fictionalized account of the Spanish Inquisition. However, it is much more than that. Some of the characters that play a major role in the book are true historical figures, but the main character is a creation of the author. The story of a Jewish midwife practicing in the 1600's is both entertaining and informative. The author educated the reader about practices of midwifery and also politics of the 17th century. The story spans the life of Ruth, the main character and takes us through the many experiences of a woman who is unconventional for her time. A well-written book from an up and coming author.
I feel I should preface this review by informing the reader that my review comes from the perspective of me and my family - and that we are (as a whole) very informed about Judaism, REAL kaballa, history of the Jewish people and secular history.
We couldn't get past the first few pages of this.
I can see why people who know very little of the above subjects might find this book intriguing. Unfortunately, it not only presents a VERY false view of Jews, Judaism, etc. but it so distorts the truth as to be damaging.
As a Jewish woman in particular, I feel that this type of book only serves to perpetuate the myth that women are second class citizens in Torah true Jewish life and that the only way to gain power is to challenge the status quo.
I have the book on my bookshelf and actually have doubts as to whether I should trade it.
Even my son in law, who is a rabbi and generally enjoys reading books like this for the comedy factor couldn't get past the first few chapters, that's how bad it is - you can't even turn it into a joke.