This review is from: Call the midwife: A True Story Of the East End in the 1950s (Paperback)
Call the Midwife is a must read for anyone interested in the East End circa 1950. Although written by a former midwife, this book is not just about childbirth. It goes into great detail about the living conditions of the era and the challenges faced by ordinary working class people. A few chapters are usually dedicated to each character, all of which are interesting. Rather cleverly, the book never feels like a collection of short stories, it has cohesion and never feels disjointed in the way that some books like this can.
I do like Jennifer Worth's style: not only is the book well written but she has a very unique way of story telling that I found very compelling indeed. She is not embarrassed to admit there are certain people she found odd or distasteful before she had the opportunity to get to know them. Then she will delve deeper and tell their story and you can tell how she - and the reader - suddenly changes their opinion towards that person, how indifference turns into compassion. It is a lesson that is relevant not just then, but now as well, reminding us that we shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
The other noticeable absence in this book which I welcomed was that it is almost entirely devoid of politics. I don't want to read page after page about politicians in any era. I want to know how people lived, worked, their customs, traditions and dialect. This is what makes a book interesting for me and this is where Jennifer Worth really excelled. Any mention of law and politics was brief and only added where strictly relevant to the topic being discussed: ie why workhouses were set up by the government at the time and various midwifery laws which changed the lives of so many.
Some have mentioned that 'Shadows of the Workhouse' is essentially the same book as 'Call the Midwife' and having read the former before the latter, I am glad to clarify that this is not the case. Certainly some characters and facts overlap slightly, but both books are worth a read in their own right. I would recommend both, but Call the Midwife is the best out of the two. I will definitely be reading other books by Jennifer Worth.