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Call The Midwife: A True Story Of The East End In The 1950s Paperback – 6 Mar 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 971 customer reviews

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  • Shadows Of The Workhouse: The Drama Of Life In Postwar London (Call The Midwife)
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  • Farewell To The East End: The Last Days of the East End Midwives (Call The Midwife)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Phoenix Edition edition (6 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753823837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753823835
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (971 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Worth's books are full of fascinating social history: about living conditions in east London, the scale of poverty and violence, the realities of postwar medicine and the workhouse (NEW STATESMAN)

Book Description

A fascinating slice of social history - Jennifer Worth's tales of being a midwife in 1950s London, now a major BBC TV series.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: 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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