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A pleasant book, but rather slow and a little superficial at times
on 28 January 2013
I suppose a lot of publishers are jumping on the bandwagon created by the "Call the Midwife" series, as I've seen a lot of either new books published soon afterwards, like this one, or re-issues of old books about nursing and midwifery.
This book is written by a lady who is one of Britain's longest-serving midwives and I believe at the time of writing, she is still a serving midwife in her 60s, which is an achievement to be admired.
The author joined up as a nurse in the late 1960s, so she was there when British society, and the NHS, were very much going through a period of immense change, so it is a fascinating period, and with the author's long service I can see why the publishers were interested in her story.
I did enjoy the book - the author has some interesting stories to tell and considering the time that has lapsed, she has good recall. She comes across as a caring person and it would be a privilege for any lady to have her as a midwife.
Having said that, the book is quite long and at times goes very slowly. The author gives you a lot of detail of her personal life, which is fine but sometimes I felt she went into rather too much detail, with a few pages of minutiae about what clothes she wore and holidays. I find to find small details more interesting than others but at times even I felt a bit bored and wished she'd hurry up a little. She said there wasn't space in the book to tell her whole story, but with tighter editing I think she could have fitted a lot more in - the book could have been a good 50 pages shorter.
Also whilst the author comes across as a nice person and is non-judgemental, I hate to say it but sometimes she comes across as just a little smug. I think she was trying to say how lucky she felt compared to some of her patients, but the constant reiteration on every other page of how lucky and privileged she was to have such a perfect life, with a wonderful job, husband, parents, in-laws etc. etc. does get a little wearing - she really does overstate her point a bit here.
More surprising was the epilogue, when she reveals that her life did have its difficulties after all, later on - so perhaps she was just trying to set the scene for that. She also thanks her "ghostwriter", which she rather oddly names, so I presume she means she didn't actually write the book herself, which is a bit disappointing and frankly surprising, because I had felt that perhaps the book reflected that the author wasn't a professional writer - so to find a professional writer was in fact involved made me a little surprised the book wasn't a little better written.
Overall I enjoyed the first part of the book more, where she goes into detail about the strict training she received in the 1960s and why she decided to become a midwife. Later it become rather too much about her personal life, which to be honest was rather uneventful. As another reviewer has noted, she tells some of her more interesting stories when she tells you about her holiday in Greece, where she relates the stories to her friend on the beach - you wonder why they couldn't have been included earlier in the book, when they actually happened.
Overall a pleasant book but I was glad I found it in a charity shop - if I'd paid full price for it I think I'd have been a bit disappointed. I would buy her second book to find out what happens, but again not at full price.