11 months before I read this book, I watched the TV-series made from it! Unfortunately, I missed the two last episodes, and thought that if I read the book, it would fill me in on what happened then. (Friends having given me the short version.)It did not! All that I read in the book, was in the TV-series first episodes so the two final ones, must be from her other books? Often a book has so much more to say, than what they can do on TV. In this case, it did not really. They kept very close to what Jennifer Worth wrote, which made the book less interesting.
What really bothered me was, that at the end of the book, you have a long appendix on how to write down the cockney dialect and also one on all medical terms explained. But I felt forced to give this book four stars because what it REALLY lacks, is a good map. Inside the cover, is a map of the general area that nurse Jennifer Worth worked in, but most areas that she mentions are missing and it's there for decoration, not to find one's way! And since there are SO many road descriptions, so much mentioning about this and that area, this and that tenement, and one doesn't know what she has changed the names of and not, she really, really ought to have included a map, marking out all spots mentioned in the book. Otherwise, how can one get a pictue in one's mind of the whole thing. Do not describe streets, if they do not have a point to the story! She does say in the book that she has changed the name of the convent where she worked. Why? And where was THAT situated on the map? Do I have to send for an A-Z? But why should I have to? Besides, most of the buildings had been condemned and ordered to be pulled down 20 years, before she worked there, so an A-Z might be useless anyway. One must hope that they are gone today! But I would have liked to have known, where exactly Mrs. Jenkins with the horrible work house experience lived, where Conchita that knew no English lived, where the brothel street was so one could see how far little Mary had to go, to get away from her pimp and so on, and so on. Since this is a less known area to most of us that have visited London as tourists, that last bit of perfection, a detailed map, is a big piece missing.
Without having seen the TV-series, I doubt I would have understood all the technical descriptions in the book, and then I have given birth myself, EIGHT TIMES!
Attached to an order of courageous, kind and eccentric nuns, apprentice midwife, Jennifer Worth, tells the story of the women she treated and the horrifying conditions in which they lived and gave birth in the Docklands slum areas of the 1950s. While she witnessed loss and brutality, she also met with incredible compassion, understanding and a large dose of Cockney humour. Funny, moving and tragic, Jennifer's stories bring to life London's impoverished East End of the 1950s. From the moment I opened this beautifully-illustrated hardback, I was enchanted -- from the poignant sepia photographs, to the author's engaging, conversational prose. Obviously not penned by a trained writer, this doesn't detract from the story, but rather enhances it. Written straight from the heart, she does not try and impress with any forced, literary skills, her no-nonsense narration echoing, even more resoundingly, her down-to-earth characters. My own training and work as a midwife perhaps rendered this story even more enjoyable. I certainly identified with the midwives and their difficult situations, but I would highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a moving and heart-warming memoir.
I have the whole series Of Call the Midwife plus the Companion edition The Life and Times of Call the Midwife and they are ALL BRILLIANT. If like me you were born and brought up in the old East End then they bring back some really happy memories of an era long gone. Even if you have no knowledge of the area you will find it interesting to see what people put up with and still managed to have a smile on their face. A harsh time made bearable by family, friends and neighbours. I recommend these books unreservedly.
I bought this for my mum for xmas. Now she is a slow reader - think sloth slow!! Well she didn't put this down until it was finished - only took her a few days! She abandoned the dishes and cooking to dedicate her time and attention to this book. She loved the photos too, reminisent of when she nursed. She's now bought herself the DVD of the first series, and wants the other books in the series - but they don't have photos in them yet!
Beautiful memoirs that could have easily been forgotten. It is so nice to be able to delve into this previously unknown world. I find it fascinating to read and have learned (and cried) a lot! The illustrations really add to the understanding of the times.
I love 'Call The Midwife' series and choose this illustrated edition with the hope that there would be photos of Jennifer, and the actual nuns she as working alongside. Initially I was disappointed as there are only a few of the author, but once I actually read the book the photos all portray the streets and social conditions that make up Jennifer's memoirs. I found it absolutely fascinating, and whilst often the BBC show can be very emotional and bring me to tears, I found this first-hand account a good deal grittier, and learned a lot about social depravation, the life of docklands London, prostitution and the workhouse. I particularly enjoyed the stories of the nuns, whose characters seem to have been very closely reflected in the TV series, especially Sister Monica Joan. Perhaps it is a shame that Jennifer was advised "less religion" by her family when they proof-read her text; I would have liked to have learned more about the religious effect living amongst the community of nuns had on her. Moreover, I am intrigued about Jennifer Worth and immediately went on to read her sisters book, The Midwife's Sister, to gain further insight into the context of Jennifer working in the East End as a midwife. What a fascinating read that is - highly recommended! I do think it would have been great if a map of the area had been included in this book (I hadn't really appreciated just how many miles they cycled to visit people!). Happily I have found a 1952 map of Poplar, Stepney, the Isle of Dogs and Bow on www.mernick.org.uk
What a lovely book at such a reasonable price. I expected it to arrive a bit tatty but just one page was creased and the print on two pages a little blurry. The television series really depicted the story perfectly - an excellent read.