Call the Midwife – by Jennifer Worth

21 08 2014

Having watched one series of Call the Midwife I picked up the book somewhere and goodness I loved it! It is definitely a little more graphic and descriptive than the TV show…

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it all, the book is autobiographical, and the TV series is based on it. After discovering that there is very little mention of midwifery in literature, Jennifer Worth took up the challenge to correct this. She was a midwife in 1950s East London, amidst an awful lot of poverty.

This book is an education. I learnt about biology (the obvious), PSHE (again, fairly obvious), but probably above all, history.

I’d heard bits and pieces about like in 1950s London, but never in this much detail, particularly the poverty. The idea that there were high rises with about 10 members of a family in each 2 room home and that was normal, is insane. It may sound odd, but even though I’m used to hearing stories of families living like this in the developing world, I never realised it was that bad in the UK that recently. Being a book that features a lot of pregnancies, and a lot of poverty, there was also a fair amount of coverage of the brothels and life in them – again pretty eye opening.
I definitely feel better educated about life in 50s London now.

The other thing that really interested me in the book was right at the end. All through the book Jenny is clear that while she is a midwife based in a convent, she is probably agnostic. She respects the nuns, but the faith thing isn’t for her. Over the book, she softens a little, and then, right at the end after talking with Sister Monica Joan and pondering, more, the last line reads “That evening, I started to read the gospels.”

I was gutted it finished there, I want to know more! The next book is more about the workhouses as this was touched on in the first book, so I don’t know if it’ll pick up on that theme again or not, I’ll have to find out when I get round to it!

The book is essentially a book of anecdotes, and really was fascinating. I’d definitely recommend it, I really feel I learnt a lot in a lot of different areas!

call the midwife

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