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Call The Midwife: A True Story Of The East End In The 1950s Hardcover – 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Group (2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753827875
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753827871
  • ASIN: B007HS7TRA
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (804 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jennifer Worth was a nurse, midwife, ward sister and night sister from 1953 until 1973, working mainly in London. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 she left nursing in order to study music intensively, teaching piano and singing for about twenty-five years. All Jennifer's books have been bestsellers and Call the Midwife is now a major BBC TV adaptation.

Product Description

Now showing on the BBC, Call The Midwife is Jennifer Worth's true story about the East End in the 1950s. Arriving in the Docklands at the age of 22, midwife Jennifer has to deal with the brothels of Cable Street, gang warfare and meths drinkers in bombsites as she gets used to living in a big new city. Funny, disturbing, incredibly moving and sometimes terrifying, this is a story that does for midwifery what James Herriot did for veterinary medicine. A book that was nominated for various awards, it brings to life both the colourful world of the East End in the 1950s and the community and camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

271 of 283 people found the following review helpful By "susiejulian" on 27 Feb 2003
Format: Paperback
'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. Some of the stories told by the author are so distressing that I have lost sleep over them and I find myself longing to know what ultimately became of Mary, the young Irish girl imprisoned for stealing a baby (her own baby having been removed from her when the nuns caring for her were unable to place her in a job that would allow her to keep her child). What happened to Mary's daughter? By my reckoning she should be a woman in her 50's now - was she ever told that she was adopted, that she had been removed from her adoring mother without Mary's consent? I have had nightmares too about the two little boys sheltering behind a chair to escape the violence of their mother's partner; what became of them, did they go on to inflict the same brutality on their own children? As a graduate of Modern History (and student midwife), I thought I knew a good deal about recent British history. How very wrong I was. This book gave me much pause for thought: the heroism of the nursing order of nuns that Jennifer Worth worked with; the courage of Jennifer Worth and her colleagues in delivering babies in the most appalling conditions; the survival instinct of the East End women - it was a complete eye-opener. Oh, that those who pursue financial gains through our litigious culture could read this book - huge families living without the basics of sanitation or even roofs (tarpaulins providing their shelter), Conchita and her 25 pregnancies.Read more ›
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 25 Jan 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after watching the first two episodes in the BBC adaptation of Call the Midwife and I have to say that I found the book even better than the TV series. The author writes with a great depth of knowledge and warmth about a world of poverty and deprivation into which she stepped in the 1950's. The descriptions of London's east end are descriptive and at times shocking to the modern reader. This is a fascinating memoir with some great characters. Loved it!
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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful By H on 4 Sep 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the only book of its knid I have even heard of, let alone read. It's a true account of birth and babies in the East End of London in the 50s. Poverty and squalor were common, and there was very little ante or post-natal care. Midwives supervised home births by arriving on bikes, somethimes throught thick smog. I loved this book, which reads like fiction but is true. Anyone who has ever had anything to do with a baby being born - particularly mothers - or anyone who fancies an interesting slant on history should read this. She writes in a chatty, informal style and I could not put it down.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Antoinette on 27 Feb 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the introduction, Jenny Lee says that she wrote this book when she realised that there was no portrayal of the role of midwives in literature. Her aim was to give an account of the role of the 1950s midwife which would do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets. In this she has succeeded.

She presents lives of abject poverty, destitution and slum living, combined with the fact that most women did not have one or two children, but five, ten, fifteen - and in one case twenty four! As the book progresses we meet so many different characters and learn their haunting stories. The tale of Mary, the 14 year old Irish girl, abused by her stepfather and neglected by her alcoholic mother, who naively ran away to London in hope of a better life, and was forced into prostitution and later separated by force from her baby. This left me in tears, weeping for this poor girl who never stood a chance. The story of the elderly Mrs Jenkins, who the author found so repulsive until she learned of her truely harrowing experiences in the workhouse. The tale of an elderly man called Ted, who realised that the child his wife bore him could not possibly be his, but as he held the baby in his arms decided to love him as his own anyway. The tale of Conchita and Len, and their happy, cheerful home with twenty-four children! And how her maternal instinct saved the life of her premature twenty-fifth baby.

This book provides the reader with an insight into life in the 1950s East End. I studied social history as part of my first degree, and this should be a compulsary text. This book explains with great clarity the extreme level of poverty without hope of relief that was the lot for many in those days. But there were also many wonderful things about the time. People lived their front doors unlocked, had families just around the corner for support and so on.

I could go on and on about this book, but perhaps I should just say, read it and discover its value for yourself.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 21 Oct 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jennifer Worth describes life and work as a midwife in the east end during the 50's beautifully. I was completely lost in this book. Superbe descriptions of daily life. I quite envied her life back then because of the interesting characters she met along the way! Easy to read, absolutely loved it and would highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ais B on 28 April 2011
Format: Paperback
Fantastic read, could not put this book down! I was sad when I finished it, I didn't want it to end! I'm a midwife living in the docklands which made it all the interesting.
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