Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse," by Jennifer Worth

"Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse," by Jennifer Worth

The sequel to Jennifer Worth's New York Times bestselling memoir and the basis for the PBS series Call the Midwife
When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the direst section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood's most vivid chronicler. Woven into the ongoing tales of her life in the East End are the true stories of the people Worth met who grew up in the dreaded workhouse, a Dickensian institution that limped on into the middle of the twentieth century.
Orphaned brother and sister Peggy and Frank lived in the workhouse until Frank got free and returned to rescue his sister. Bubbly Jane's spirit was broken by the cruelty of the workhouse master until she found kindness and romance years later at Nonnatus House. Mr. Collett, a Boer War veteran, lost his family in the two world wars and died in the workhouse.
Though these are stories of unimaginable hardship, what shines through each is the resilience of the human spirit and the strength, courage, and humor of people determined to build a future for themselves against the odds. This is an enduring work of literary nonfiction, at once a warmhearted coming-of-age story and a startling look at people's lives in the poorest section of postwar London.

If you enjoyed the television series "Call the Midwife," you will love this book.  It's more graphic in detail and at times it makes your skin crawl but it's well worth the read.

If you saw the series you will remember the story about Peggy and Frank.  So I knew what was going to happen, but despite knowing I still cried, it was such a sad but lovely story that you couldn't help but tear up.

It once again brought it home to me that I had a very easy childhood and have nothing to complain about.  It also brought home that despire all the hardships and povety that thses people lived in, their sense of community and belonging mattered more to them than anything else.  So that when they tore down the tenements it was the end of a way of life for them that they never got back.

Stars our of 5 : 5 makes you appreciate what you have got and it makes you think this book.  There is a third in the series, so I'll have to see if my library will get that one in next.  They did get the book "The Life and Times of Call the Midwife," by Heidi Thomas, which is the offical companion to the Seasons One and Two, so I will read that one next.


  1. I have read almost all her books, well worth the read. didn't care too much about the one on dying as it was too heavy. Very good series though i have not watched the TV series, just read the books.

  2. Are you getting the second series of this show? Wondered what channel you watch it on...if you get our PBS stations. I sure have loved this show, but missed the Christmas special.


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