Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth

Book Review | Rating – 4/5 | Genre – Nonfiction Memoir

“Call the Midwife’ is a most extraordinary book and should be required reading of all students of midwifery, nursing, sociology and modern history. It tells of the experiences of a young trainee midwife in the East End of London in the 1950’s and is a graphic portrayal of the quite appalling conditions that the East Enders endured.”

(synopsis from Goodreads)

What did I like?

This was just such a pleasant book to read! After watching the TV show on Netflix I had a delayed love for the stories of the East End. I had bought the book series for my boyfriend so thought I’d give them a read myself, and I’m so far not disappointed at all. Jennifer Worth has perfectly described the post-war East End; with poverty ruining the lives of thousands, while the rest of London tries to heal itself.

Each chapter focuses on a different story while showcasing how the midwives and the nuns of Nonatus house helped deliver children around the East End. These stories are told with such precision from Worth that I was able to invest in each one with ease.

Why 4/5?

  • A beautiful narrative voice: Worth’s voice was perfect at re-telling all of her experiences as a nurse back then. She describes the quick and constant transformation of the NHS so eloquently. It was always a joy to just read what she had to say.
  • Interesting stories: each chapter brought to life another story of labour that took place in the East End of London during a time when maternity and the NHS was still fairly new to the public.
  • Unique take on history: I’ve always had an interest in history, but I’ve never had the patience to sit and learn more about the past since finishing school. This book was perfect and telling the stories at the past while inter-mingling facts about the NHS and post-war London.

Would I recommend it?

For those who love the TV show but aren’t sure about reading the book, I would definitely recommend this book. If you’re looking for a good historical book this is perfect for you. Overall, I would say it’s a great read, the only reason I wasn’t able to give it full stars is that the jump between stories took me out of what year it was talking about and how far certain stories with the surrounding nuns and nurses had gone.

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