Call the Midwife

By Jennifer Worth,

Book cover of Call the Midwife

Book description

The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey

Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East…

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Why read it?

3 authors picked Call the Midwife as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I was born in my parent’s house which, like all in our area, had no central heating. That was the reality of giving birth in the forties and fifties in England. Jennifer’s memoir of midwifery in working-class Poplar, in the docklands of London, gave rise to one of the most popular TV series. The BBC has taken the story beyond Jennifer’s memoir but the tone is the same. The TV series, like the book, tackles difficult social, cultural, and economic issues, with insight, compassion, and humour. I aimed to tackle issues of class, gender, and race in my memoir in…

London's East End dockland in the 1950s had no midwife services other than those organised by a small order of nuns. A trained nurse, Worth was one of its staff confronted by the needs of the slum tenements of the area, which at the time still laid claim to being the largest port in the world. Her story is of mainly closed, self-contained communities, elements of which exist today next to the British capital's new financial centre of Canary Wharf. Both sad and uplifting, the book is an incitement to come, walk and imagine the ghosts of the old London…

From Peter's list on telling stories from real life.

I think many Americans didn’t even realize midwives were still “a thing” until the emergence of the award-winning British television series, Call the Midwife. That series is based on Jennifer Worth’s memoir, which details her experiences as a young woman who moves into a convent and becomes a midwife in the slums of London’s East End. Like the other firsthand accounts I’ve mentioned here (Martha Ballard’s diary; Peggy Vincent’s memoir), this book humanizes birth, and reminds us of the important role midwives have played in making mothers feel safe and empowered in a wide variety of times and settings.

From Wendy's list on the history of childbirth.

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