My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sensitive reader: Explicit detail on child birth, venereal disease, and prostitution.
A time capsule.
That is what Jennifer Worth has given us in her memoir, Call the Midwife, a perfectly captured time-capsule of her life in London’s East End, where she trained as a nurse, midwife in the 1950s.
This was a glorious book. Her storytelling was superb. I was immediately transported to post-War London, walking foggy streets, among ramshackle buildings and immense poverty. But among the ruins, is a group of midwives, The Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus, who care for the greater population of women of the East End.
We learn to love, hope, dream, care, cry, and mourn for her patients: Mary, a 15 yr old prostitute; Molly, the very young abused mother of 3; Sally, a 21 yr old expectant “mum” who suffers from eclampsia; Mrs. Jenkins, whose story is so tragic, it could be a book unto itself; and Concita Warren, a mother of 25 (take that Michelle Duggar!), who speaks no English, but raises her family with love and courage.
She also gives us a great history lesson about the East End and the “Cockney” residents. It was an education just trying to understand how they spoke!
I wanted to read Ms. Worth’s memoir BEFORE I watched the mini-series. I’m so glad I did. It will be one of my top 5 favorite books of the year. I loved it.
Call the Midwife is the first of a trilogy of books that she wrote – the second, Shadow of the Workhouse, and third, Farewell to the East End. I’m eager to read those as well.
Sadly, I learned that Ms. Worth died last year. I wonder what she would think of her memoir being adapted to a mini-series?
Finally, here is a lovely video of Ms. Worth reminiscing about her work in the East End. It is a treat.
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