Witch of Cologne

Witch of Cologne

by Tobsha Learner

Paperback(First Edition)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765314307
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 665,909
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

Originally from London, where she trained to be a sculptor, Tobsha Learner has lived in America and Australia. The Witch of Cologne was a bestseller in Australia; Learner's short story collection, Quiver, is an international success.

Learner has written for radio, television and film, the theater. Her plays have been performed at theater festivals in the US, Australia, and Scotland, and she has produced three short films. Learner has received many awards for her work.

Tobsha Learner currently lives in Australia.

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The Witch of Cologne 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I strongly disagree with the negative comments written regarding the author's writing style and historical detail. This is not a flippant read-- if you are interested in something light, this is not for you. The descriptions are rich, the characters multifaceted, the historical backdrop engrossing. I was a history major at an Ivy-- this book is pure joy for history lovers. You will also see Learner's playwright background influence her fiction writing--- you will feel like you are part of the scene. The book is incredibly enjoyable.
bookishjoxer on LibraryThing 3 months ago
The story was fantastic. I loved it. I think the main character was written dull and very boring though.
MichaelTravisJasper More than 1 year ago
This historical novel provides a detailed peek into a very specific time and place. I think most history buffs will find it fascinating. It reminds us that people have used the guise of religion to wield power and control and abuse others for a very long time. There are some supernatural elements to this story, but not as much as the title would imply. For the most part, it is the story of a Jewish midwife both needed and feared by the Christian society around her. She falls in love with a wayward priest, and they must endeavor to escape the lust and torture of a mad clergyman obsessed with her family. Don’t expect a traditional happy ending, but the book is mostly satisfying in the end. Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Inspiritice More than 1 year ago
Politics, religion, intrigue, persecution, eroticism, fantasy, social change, anti-feminism and witchcraft almost bombard the reader in Tobsha Learner's, The Witch of Cologne. The novel opens with Ruth bas Elazar Saul, daughter of the city of Cologne's chief rabbi, sweating through the labor and breech delivery of the child of a prominent, important Catholic burgher's very young, third wife. That the burgher has promised to have Ruth's life should his wife or child die in the process of this difficult birth weighs not nearly as heavily on Ruth's mind as whether Ruth's training in Amsterdam has prepared her for dealing with this moment and saving one, or preferably both, lives. Learner's attention to detail is extraordinary, whether that detail be in the customs, dress, or politics inherent in 17th Century Cologne, Germany, or the place of females, in particular Jewish females, within Europe at that time. In one interview in Australia where Learner now lives most of the time, she explained the two years of historical research and time spent writing and checking the accuracy of facts and people in this work. Eroticism and sexually explicit descriptions seem at times to interfere with the plot rather than advance it; however, Learner manages through her prose and descriptive imagery to deeply involve the reader. Becoming engaged in the questions and decisions confronting Ruth, we also become less bothered by the eroticism because of Learner's ability to develop characters whose lives amid deep intrigue draw us into their world. Readers will be rewarded with a critical look at the development of a female mind in a time and place where women's role was seen by most of the powerful as that of either wife or concubine, bearer of children or illicit lover. Ruth, despite persecution, manages to remain true to herself and to her principles. In the midst of her search for medical knowledge and acceptance, Ruth is befriended by a powerful German who manages to offend all who know him in his efforts to save Ruth from execution. While the story is sometimes overwhelmed by details verging on salaciousness, the story does reward the reader willing to engage in the struggle to learn what drives Ruth to go against the will of those who know and love her and what drives the church inquisitor who is determined that Ruth must die. When we learn that Ruth's mother had spurned that inquisitor's overtures of love, we begin to have a glimmer of insight into the demons driving this angry, vengeful man and his hatred of Ruth. Learner paints a seemingly accurate picture of the world of Ruth's time, the anguish of love between a Jewish midwife and a Catholic canon, and a world beginning to work its way out of the Dark Ages into the light of the Reformation and Enlightenment and gives Ruth powerful mentors including Spinoza. Ruth takes full advantage of the knowledge these mentors provide. Learner's success as a novelist and playwright, though she trained as a sculptor in London, is further assured by this troubling yet entertaining novel, her third publication which has been optioned for a movie.
ErinsBooks More than 1 year ago
I started reading this book because I finished a different book while staying w/ my sister and had nothing else to do. I ended up taking it with me when I left her house. The characters have amazing depth, the plot is intriguing and captivating, and the overall book is well-written. I found myself staying up late into the night thinking, "Just one more chapter!" I'm not a historian, so I don't know how accurate the information is, but the fact and fiction blended well together, weaving an intricate story that left me spellbound.
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Succinct_Reviews More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. Yes, it is a complex story, but it doesn't take away from the story line. Once you start reading, you will find it difficult to put the book down. Ruth's spirit and strength of character makes this a great read.

Living in the 17th century, the main character is a young intelligent Jewish woman named Ruth. Ruth escapes an arranged marriage, lives as a man while studying, and eventually becomes a midwife. As a midwife she combines her medical skills and scared learning knowledge to provide her patients medical care. Even though she saves lives, this practice backfires when the leader of the Spanish Inquisition accuses her of being a witch. Carlos Vicente Solitario leads the prosecuting party. His hatred for Ruth is fueled by his obsession with Ruth's mother, and his memory of her rejection. During her time in prison, Ruth meets her soul mate Canon Detlef Von Tennen. Their unconventional union causes an outrage. The couple is forced to flee and fight for their beliefs and survival.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Needs a lot of editing. The author tries to cover to many topics without success. The story's historical setting is sketchy, the philosophical theories are boring, has morbid inquisition scenes, erotic relationships lacking sensuality and true romance, has characters that the book can do without and useless descriptions. Other than that, it only costs $7.99 so it was not a huge loss. I have read better novels with historical settings mingled with religion like 'The Ghost of Hannah Mendes' and 'Holly Fools'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book but it had its flaws. What I loved: the historical detail, the background of the melting pot that became modern Europe, the outline of the characters. It was a great idea, and the writer has great promise. The plot just didn't flow quite right and the relationships between the characters just fell a little flat. What I didn't like: the ending, the choppy plot, a lack of successfully written feeling between major characters. Ruth is rather one-dimensional - she doesn't make sense. I felt the author was trying for something along the lines of Philippa Gregory's 'WISEWOMAN' or 'WIDEACRE' but it didn't quite work out. The ending was just so disappointing and left me feeling like I'd wasted my time except for learning a lot about 1660's Cologne & Amsterdam.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I disagree with the other reviews here...the point of the book is that is gives us a history lesson as well as giving us an intriguing story to read. I found this a very accessible and entertaining novel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a cross between 'The Red Tent' and 'The Outlander'. I loved it though some of the time period political climate could have been condensed. The politis were centeral to the plot but the point could have been made without the detailed history lesson in European-Catholic politics.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in the seventeenth century, Ruth bas Elazer Saul is called the witch from Deutz. She is also the best midwife in the Rhineland. Ruth believes in Science and has studied the sacred text of Kabbalah, which women are banned from doing. ............................................. The Inquisitor, Carlos Vicente Solitario, charges Ruth with heresy. But Detlef von Tennen believes that those false charges are not the real reason Ruth is in such danger. Since Detlef is canon, and the cousin of the Archbishop, he joins the investigation. .................................................................... ...................... *** The plot and cast of character in this novel are too complex for me to write a thorough synopsis. If you do not already know something about seventeenth century history, you may very well find yourself lost and bewildered. ***