In 17th century Germany, the city of Cologne is a Catholic stronghold with little tolerance for anyone of low class or different religions. The Jews are banished to Deutz, the Jewish Ghetto of Cologne and face rapes, beatings and death regularly. Ruth, the independent daughter of Deutz’s Chief Rabbi has returned to Deutz after fleeing an arranged marriage to be with her ailing father. Ruth is a skilled midwife that believes in a more enlightened existence then what is available to a Jewish Woman. As the Inquisition comes to haunt Cologne, Ruth is imprisoned for witchcraft and finds an unlikely friend and lover in Detlef von Tennan, a Catholic Canon. What ensues is a wild ride of deceit, betrayal and a passionate love that transcends all accepted morals of the time.
The Witch of Cologne is a dense novel that does a tremendous job of bringing to life the restrictions and close-mindedness of 17th century Germany juxtaposed with the individuals who grasp the beginning movements of the Enlightenment despite the personal dangers such beliefs bring. The characters are well-developed and the reader gets a touch of mystic Judaism and history. 2003, 462 pages.