CALL THE MIDWIFE calls to my heart and is one of my all time favorite shows and books. Maybe it’s because the story takes place during an era of renewal after a war that affected people world-wide. Maybe it’s because Jennifer Worth’s memoir of East End London in the 1950s is a warm and endearing story about an RN. Maybe it’s the highs and lows of midwife life in the Docklands of the East End in London. There were three books about Jennifer Worth’s experiences as a midwife. They are humorous, sad, and thought-provoking and you won’t forget them. Millions of copies of her books have sold since the TV series debuted.Did you watch the TV series? If you really want to read a heartfelt memoir of a nurse’s experiences in trying circumstances, maybe it’s time to read the books as I did. Purchase these books as a boxed set or individually.
Call the Midwife
Jennifer Worth’s memoir of being a midwife in 1950s London is a fascinating slice of social history. It wasn’t long after WWII and London was still recovering from the devastating effects of that war.
From a sheltered background, Jennifer Worth became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of the grim poverty of their lives and homes, but also because of what they endured. Jennifer describes witnessing brutality and tragedy, but the kindness and understanding of her patients, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humor carried her through the experience. She also earned the confidences of some whose lives were more terrifying than those she had encountered in fiction.
Jennifer tells the story not only of the women patients she treated, but also of the community of nuns– an order who had worked in the slums since the 1870s and the camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained. Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving, Jennifer’s stories bring to life the colorful world of the East End in the 1950s.
Shadows of the Workhouse
In this follow-up to CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth, tells more stories about the people she encountered in the Docklands area of London including Jane, who cleaned at Nonnatus House and was taken to the workhouse as a baby. She was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. Then there’s Peggy and Frank who were left destitute when their parents died within 6 months of each other. At the time, there was no other option for them but the workhouse.
The Reverend Thornton-Appleby-Thorton, a missionary in Africa, visits the Nonnatus nuns and Sister Julienne acts as matchmaker. And Sister Monica Joan, the eccentric ninety-year-old nun, is accused of shoplifting some small items from the local market. She is let off with a warning, but then Jennifer finds stolen jewels from Hatton Garden in the nun’s room. These stories give a fascinating insight into the resilience and spirit that enabled ordinary people to overcome their difficulties.
Farewell to the East End
This last book in Jennifer Worth’s memories of her time as a midwife in London’s East end brings her story full circle. Heartbreaking stories such as the family devastated by tuberculosis and a ship’s woman who ‘serviced’ the entire crew, as well as plenty of humor and warmth, such as the tale of two women who shared the same husband are included! Other stories cover the lives of the inhabitants of Nonnatus House-the gauche debutante Chummy and her equally gauche police officer, Sister Monica Joan and her crimes and Jennifer’s journey as she moves on from the close community of nuns when her life takes a new path.
About the Author
Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and was later ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, then the Marie Curie Hospital, also in London. She left nursing in 1973 and studied music, teaching piano and singing for about twenty-five years. She died in May 2011, survived by her husband , two daughters and three grandchildren. Her books were all bestsellers.
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