27 February, 2014

Book Review: Call the Midwife

From Goodreads: Life in London's docklands in the 1950s was tough. The brothels of Cable Street, the Kray brothers and gang warfare, the meths drinkers in the bombsites - this was the world that Jennifer Worth entered when she became a midwife at the age of twenty-two. Babies were born in slum conditions, often with no running water.
Jennifer Worth describes the romance and beauty of the great port of London, the bug-infested tenements, the spectre of disease, the sense of community and the incredible resilience of women who bore more than ten children. Funny, disturbing and moving, Call the Midwife brings to life a world that has now changed beyond measure.

Thoughts: When I found out that the TV series Call The Midwife was based on books, I knew I had to read them. I did borrow it from the library, but ran out of time before I could open it. Thankfully a friend owned a copy and lent it to me. And in some ways it's a blessing that my Kindle died, forcing me to pick up something in hard copy and discovering this lovely book.
Jennifer Worth is no literary great, but her writing style is easy to read with a conversational quality. You can imagine sitting with her over a cup of tea as she tells you stories about her time as a midwife. At times I did find her a bit disingenuous, purporting to not be judgemental and then coming out with something very judgemental! But to be fair, I think it would be hard to see what a midwife of that time saw and not form some opinions about what was going on around you.
What struck me most about the book though was the way it straddled time frames. There were things happening that I considered quite modern - the description of care for premature babies took me by surprise - while at the same time conditions for the patients were something you are unlikely to see today - no running water in the house, no plumbing. You can see that the world was on the cusp of change. Obviously that change came quicker for some than others!
Call the Midwife was a great, light read. I enjoyed it and can see myself reading the other books in the series.