Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Title: Call the Midwife
Author: Jennifer Worth
Enjoyment Rating: ****
Source: Audible
This book would be rated: PG-13 for discussion of prostitution, STDs, and detailed descriptions of childbirth

When Jennifer Worth, a middle class London nurse, starts her midwife training at Nonnatus House in London's East End, she's not entirely prepared for what the experience would bring. Fifty years later she writes about these experiences through the lens of change.

In the 1950s, the East End of London was a place bound by morals and traditions. Most of the people were poor, but they were generally hardworking and proud. The women stayed chaste before marriage, then could expect to have a dozen children over the course of their childbearing. The families often lived in two-room tenements, with a single bathroom and a cold water tap at the end of the hall, shared by everyone on the floor. If all went well, the babies were born at home, under the direction of a trained midwife.

Worth tells fascinating stories about her career as a midwife. She captures the sounds and images of a bygone era. At times, I felt that she went into too much detail about certain stories, and she seemed to show unabashed praise for the rustic simplicity of certain characters (the Warrens, in particular), but she also showed how she grew as a human being, and her own understanding was expanded as she went through her training. I just started the PBS series, and I'm enjoying it too, but honestly, I like  the book a lot better.

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