Posts Tagged ‘Jennifer Worth’

I managed to finish one last book this year, and it’s a bit different from my normal choices.

Book 55 – Call The Midwife, by Jennifer Worth. This is a memoir, a collection of various stories from Worth’s life as a midwife in London’s East End, in the 1950’s. The stories told are sometimes funny, sometime sad, occasionally horrifying – this book doesn’t depict a cosy, rosy past.  There is a section about prostitution which I noticed in the Goodreads comments had caused people to stop reading the book.

It shows women trapped by circumstances and abuse; women loved and adored; women who gave up their whole lives to the service of God and others.

I found this an intriguing book. Obviously you can feel and hear Worth’s own experiences and emotions within the book but the writing has an almost detached feeling, as though she is reflecting the cool professional approach required of her. The descriptions of even the most horrifying situations are matter-of-fact, not dramatic. There were a couple of notable exceptions but this was the general style of the book.

That’s not to say it was heartless, or unfeeling. Rather, there was a sense that every woman she met was entitled to respect, understanding and appropriate care, regardless of how they presented. Whenever Worth veered off this path she quickly showed that it was a mistake on her part to do so; that she hadn’t been fair to judge the women so harshly.

I don’t often veer into non-fiction but when I do I like to read stories of the ‘normal’ person – how life was lived by every(wo)man not just the rich and powerful. This book provided many examples of real people – in all their messy, selfish, loving, pungent, generous glory.

I would recommend it with a note of caution regarding some of the abuse depicted, and the descriptions of prostitution.

As an aside, I know this book has been turned into a TV series, which I haven’t watched. However it is a dramatic read and I imagine it would make dramatic viewing.

Happy reading and a happy new year to you all!



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