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April 2021

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Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Fans of the TV show Call the Midwife; anyone interested in life in London in the 1950s.

In a nutshell:
Midwife Jennifer Worth recounts stories of her time working in the East End of London, soon after the creation of the National Health Service (NHS).

Worth quoting:
N/A (Audio Book)

Why I chose it:
I very much enjoy the TV show Call the Midwife, and have been eying the book in shops for a couple of years now. Finally decided it might be fun to listen to the stories.

Review:
First things first: this book is much more descriptive when it comes to births than the TV show. The show does, I think, a great job of showing how messy and challenging childbirth can be, but hearing all the aspects of it described? That might be a bit much for someone who hasn’t given birth. I have not given birth, but found the descriptions of the different situations to be fascinating.

Jennifer Worth is assigned to work at Nonnatus House, which is an order of nuns who focus on providing nursing and midwifery to the community. She shares her experiences of the East End of London, which includes living conditions that many of us would find nearly unbelievable and definitely shocking were we to encounter it as the norm today. Worth is honest in her reactions (and at times revulsions), and I think that helps the reader understand what life was like for some people. And while Worth is often judgmental when she encounters new situations, by the end of each story she seems to have recognized either where her judgment has been wrong, or at least come to have more understanding and compassion for people who are in a different life situation than she is.

As someone who enjoys the TV show, I couldn’t help but superimpose the actors who play these individuals onto them, which is a challenge when the description is fairly different from the character on TV (this is especially true for Fred). I had to remind myself a few times that the stories she’s sharing, which of course will have shifted due to the passage of time and the fallibility of human memory, are essentially about real people, and real lives, lived not so long ago.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it (Audio Book)

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