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269 of 281 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Call the Midwife - a salutory experience
'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...
Published on 27 Feb 2003 by susiejulian

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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars same book two differenet titles
I was so disapointed when this book arrived, it's the same book as 'Call the Midwife' but with a different title. there should be a warning for the readers.
Published on 13 May 2009 by Elaine Orton


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269 of 281 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Call the Midwife - a salutory experience, 27 Feb 2003
This review is from: Call the Midwife (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. I await Jennifer Worth's promised follow-up with great anticipation - my only observation being that she needs to let us know what became of her 'heroes' and 'heroines' - did Conchita live to a ripe old age, did Mary ever escape the clutches of prostitution once released from prison? Come on Jennfer, please tell us. And congratulations on an incredible book - this student midwife looks in awe upon your skills, your courage, your ability to deliver a baby in the most desperate circumstances. And I salute the women of the 1950s East End.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and utterly absorbing, 25 Jan 2012
By 
Amazon Customer (stoke-on-trent, england) - See all my reviews
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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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87 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history of birth and East End, 4 Sep 2002
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This review is from: Call the Midwife (Paperback)
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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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing True Stories of Life in the East End, 27 Feb 2008
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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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 28 April 2011
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't Put This Book Down, 21 Oct 2007
By 
L. Dyer "Ley" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Fabulous. Awe Inspiring!, 3 Jan 2011
If I wasn't already a student midwife, i think it would have made me one there and then. A magnificent book to accompany my studies, give me a laugh as well as warm my cockles with stories of life, love and ominous death. The series of the three books are simply unmissable. I should be getting royalties for the amount of sales i have caused amoungst family and friends. They all love it too. I also inadvertantly caused an OAP craze in a rehabilitation centre when i lent my grandmother the book, only to discover the next week, the whole lot of them had a copy. Hilarious and wonderful!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic!, 17 April 2011
I would highly recommend this book, one of my all-time favourites.
Jennifer gives an honest account of her days as a midwife in East End London's poorest tennements, while living with nuns. She pays pleasant attention to detail while telling of life in the nunnery and of her visits to patients houses where she delivers their babies. She obviously has a warm personality and natural interest in everyone she meets, whether they are her patient or housemate as every characters personality and life is conveyed to the reader with sparkling reality and with warmth, affection, sadness (i won't go into details as don't want to spoil it for anyone whose not read it yet but be pepared to be deeply moved to tears) and large helpings of humour. Jennifer gives detailed factual accounts of each birth.

Jennifer was a young, faily naive girl when she began working from the nunnery so she was obviously seeing sights and dealing with situations she'd never faced before. She explains the shock she felt at times.

The poor conditions that people lived in are shocking, saddening and heart-wrenching. Things were much different to they are today -one of the worst things being in those days loving young mums had to give up their babies if they were too young or too poor, they had no say in the matter..
Overjoyed to see it has now been made into a 6 part drama on TV. this makes enjoyable viewing and i shall definitly buy the DVD but the TV version is no-where near as gritty and real as the book.
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70 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Familiar Territory, 2 Nov 2003
By 
Mrs. Angela READ "Maturegrad" (Devizes, Wiltshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Call the Midwife (Paperback)
Like Jennifer Worth, I was a midwife in the Fifties. Her narrative awoke many memories for me, many I'd forgotten, some I'd tried to forget. An only child, protected from the 'nastiness' of real life, midwifery training at first shocked me and then drew me into a career full of love and life: I miss it still. My 'District' was suburban London and later on a West End hospital, but poverty was there,too, alongside a richness of spirit. I used to be embarrassed by my emotional response at every birth I attended:'Call the Midwife' made me shed tears again as my memories chimed with her experiences. The 'Kangaroo Care' of Conchita's baby specially drew me as I had a spell caring for premature babies and always felt that incubator care was too impersonal; thankfully this has changed now to allow mothers much more hands-on involvement with their tiny babies.
Incidentally, I trained medical students: are they really no longer trained in this way?
May I add my plea to Jennifer Worth to complete her trilogy; the only improvement on her first book would be two more of the same.
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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars same book two differenet titles, 13 May 2009
By 
Elaine Orton - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I was so disapointed when this book arrived, it's the same book as 'Call the Midwife' but with a different title. there should be a warning for the readers.
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Call the midwife: A True Story Of the East End in the 1950s
Call the midwife: A True Story Of the East End in the 1950s by Jennifer Worth (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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