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The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and…
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The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (original 2002; edition 2009)

by Jennifer Worth

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
964638,971 (4.12)1 / 182
Member:jcmontgomery
Title:The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
Authors:Jennifer Worth
Info:Penguin Books (2009), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****
Tags:Non-Fiction, Memoir

Work details

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (2002)

  1. 10
    All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: These books have a similar nostalgic feel for a community and an era.
  2. 00
    White City by Donald James Wheal (bergs47)
  3. 00
    Arms Wide Open: A Midwife's Journey by Patricia Harman (cransell)
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Showing 1-5 of 62 (next | show all)
I didn't think I had the much interest in 1950's East End London or midwifery but after watching the Netflix show on which these novels are based I can say that I find both to be absolutely fascinating. After watching the first two seasons of Call the Midwife which I love, love, love ( I especially adore Chummy) I wanted to know more about Jennifer Worth's life so I picked up this novel, the first in a series of three. The novel did not disappoint. I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the cases in the book were turned into episodes of the show. While some of the characters that I found endearing like Chummy and Jimmy are only briefly mentioned in the book they get a much expounded upon life in the television series. Even though the show stretched some things to make a full length television show out of a relatively short book, the TV show still feels very true to what was related in the book.

I know some readers took exception with a vivdly described scene of a young girl's induction into prostitution. This was also a very memorable episode arc in the show. I think Jennifer Worth is to be commended for showing how gritty life could really be in the East End. While the show never attempts to shy away from the harsh realties that people were living in at the time, it's Jennifer Worth's words that really drive home the spirit of what the East End women really endured. No matter how harsh the realties are, new life endures, and with it, new hope.

The TV show and the book compliment each other perfectly. It is very enjoyable to watch the talented actresses bring to life the memorable people and stories in the book. The casting director did a fantastic job. I highly recommend this series and look forward to viewing season 3 as well as reading Shadows of the Workhouse. ( )
  arielfl | Jul 10, 2015 |
Call the Midwife is the outstanding, wonderful, sensitive, sad and funny memoir of Jennifer Worth's years working as a nurse midwife in London's dock area in the 50's. Jennifer lived in an Anglican convent at the time; meeting many of the nicest people.

Much more than just stories of childbirths, Worth provides historical, medical and social backgrounds of the times giving the reader a much better understanding of her experiences. She describes the spirit-killing, horrendous conditions of the workhouse, the dismal life of prostitutes, and the prevalence of domestic abuse. But she accentuates the positive, sweet goodness of the poor and middle-class residents of the area.

This book is a gift to be treasured, read, re-read and shared. ( )
  Bookish59 | Jul 4, 2015 |
Would absolutely recommend this book - as long as you aren't squeamish about OB/GYN procedures and birth! Keeping in mind this is non-fiction, and the author is not a "writer" but rather an older woman sharing the amazing stories of her life - this is very enjoyable. My only issues were that the story jumps around a bit and doesn't really flow - but again, she isn't a "writer" by trade and so all is forgiven. Very interesting read - I loved the people she knew and helped, and I loved the way she compared life then, with life now to remind us how very much living standards and technology have changed since the 1950's. ( )
  BeckyGraham1016 | May 18, 2015 |
This first volume in the memoir that the BBC TV series of this name is based on is a fascinating, well-told read, though the incidents relayed will be very familiar to anyone who has watched the show. The memoir is perhaps a bit more detailed, though the show certainly gets most of the particulars of life, midwifery, and 1950s medicine in. The series and the book organize material differently, and therein probably lies the biggest difference between this source material and the television produced from it: the TV series is a story with a social conscience revolving around characters while the memoir is anecdotal social history less concerned with "what will happen next." In particular, it focuses less on the personal lives of the midwives. I suspect reading the book(s) first and then watching the show would be the more rewarding activity rather than watching and then reading (the show feels a bit like it fleshes out and invitalizes what is already on the page), but the book still has much to offer if one's already watched. Worth tells the stories compellingly, explains things well, and is particularly good at demonstrating how naive or misguided her younger self was without sounding dismissive or self-deprecatory. Recommended. ( )
1 vote lycomayflower | May 11, 2015 |
Love the book. The stories and interesting and told with a real opening to all different walks of life. ( )
  KamGeb | Mar 29, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jennifer Worthprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Coates, TerryEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cole, StephanieReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated to Philip, my dear husband.
The history of 'Mary' is also dedicated to the memory of Father Joseph Williamson and Daphne Jones.
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Nonnatus House was situated in the heart of the London Docklands.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies...from the plucky warmhearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children, to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side..illuminate a fascinating time in history.
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Jennifer Worth was just twenty-two when she volunteered to spend her early years of midwifery training in London's East End in the 1950s. Coming from a sheltered background there were tough lessons to be learned. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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