Book Review: Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Title: Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafron
Genre: Horror, Fiction
Format: Audio Book
Narrator: Daniel Weyman
Source: Library Download
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012


This short novella takes place in Barcelona between 1979 and 1980. 15-year-old boarding school student Oscar  Drai finds himself with 3 free hours during the school day. With this time, he explores his neighborhood and surroundings areas. During on of his excursions, he stumbles into a dilapidated mansion, drawn in by the music playing from the inside.  Caught by the owner, Oscar takes off running, leaving with a gold watch that he had seen laying on a table. After a while, feeling the guilt of a thief, Oscar returns to the house to return the watch to its rightful owners. It is from this day that he meets Marina. A girl his age who lives alone with her father and the ghost of her departed mother. While Oscar and Marina form a unique and strong friendship, they find themselves led down a dark path, inserting themselves into the lives of broken, miserable lost souls. His journey with Marina takes him into the labyrinths of Barcelona’s underworld, a world full of forgotten, deformed and mislead creatures. A postwar Barcelona, filled with aristocrats, actresses, tycoons and inventors.

I think I would best describe this book a horror fairy tale. In all honesty, I was shocked to see that this book was penned for a young adult audience. Zafron’s prose is so rich with imagery, and so wrought with fear, loneliness and desperation from its cast of characters. I was shuddering with fear and disgust at some of the horror and violence that took place in the book. The twist at the end I did not predict, although it seemed like a fitting ending after everything Oscar and Marina suffered throughout the course of this book. I listed to the book on audio, which did definitely set the mood of such a dark book. Daniel Weyman did a fantastic job with the pace and tone of the book.

The book is an intricate mystery, suspense, thriller, horror love story of sorts. An ugly love, a frail love and a determined love, but a love story nonetheless. Although I wasn’t aware at the brevity of the book through the audio book, it is a story that I didn’t want to finish. In fact, it was very difficult to find a place to pause throughout the entire story. Each scene, each conversation, each experience flowed so perfectly into the next. It’s almost as if the book is meant to be read in one-go. My constant stops and starts with disrupt the mood and tone of the book and it would take me a while to transport myself back into Zafron’s world.

Although the book is set in 1970’s Barcelona, I was able to recognize a number of streets and locations that he mentioned from my trip there a few years ago. If anything, this book has me wanting to go back to Barcelona. The Gothic Quarter in particular is so rife for horror stories and old magic. It’s a wonderful setting for these types of books. Of the two Zafron books I’ve read, I prefer The Shadow of the Wind. I found that one to be more of an emotional and psychological horror, while Marina was driven more by passion and emotion. Apparently, I have not reviewed The Shadow of the Wind on this site. I thought I had. It’s a wonderful book and one I’m constantly shoving into the hands of curious library users asking for a good book to read. But now I have another title to stow away in my memory for the teens that come in looking for a book.

The post, Book Review: Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafron, first appeared on The Novel World.

Book Review: The Examined Life by Stephan Grosz

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephan Grosz
Genre: Memoir, Psychology
Format: Audio Book
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Norton & Company, 2014


In Stephen Grosz’ book, The Examined Life, Stephen gives the reader a look into the psycho-analytical process of a diverse and wide range of behavioral and mental maladaptions to their environments. The book is divided into five distinct sections, with stories and breakthroughs lining with the prescribed theme of the chapter. There is loss, closure, grief, etc.

Many of his chapters were insightful and introspective. He had a number of thoughtful observations that I wrote down.

“When we succeed in feeling nothing we lose our understanding of what hurts us and why”

This one quote was about a particular case study of a woman who just felt nothing when things fell apart around her. Its life a shield against the unfairness of life. Many of Grosz’s thoughts almost force the reader to look inwards really appreciate his analysis. Its funny with anything related to psychology. We always look for ourselves in these stories. I saw many elements of myself in each of his clients, granted not to their extreme. There is definitely something to be learned about behavior patterns and interpersonal relationships through the stories in this book. Although, to be honest, I felt like he was holding back quite a bit throughout the entire book. Every section felt just too short. Something was missing. He would start some section casually talking about 3 or 4 different client mental ailments before settling on one story to divulge in full to the reader. Although most of his stories stuck to the theme of the chapter, others felt randomly squeezed in. I would have liked some more insight and some transition from the patient’s distress to breakthrough. The breakthroughs were all invariable discovered through a memory of a long-forgotten dream or childhood experience. Most of the adulthood handicaps were stemmed from traumatic experiences. It made me hyper-aware of my son’s environment and what he is exposed to and what his experiences are. Last thing I want is for him to develop some kind of stigma or neurosis because of some seemingly miniscule action on my part.

I listened to the audiobook through my library’s Hoopla streaming service. Audiobooks on Hoopla are basically just one long track. This book was 5.5 hours. Which meant that I had to be very careful when I would pause or shut the screen so that I wouldn’t lose my place. The book was narrated by Peter Marinker. Both Grosz and Marinker are British and all of the stories take place at Grosz’ office in London. Marinker has a very calm and soothing voice, perfect to narrate the lives of such disturbed individuals. His voice carries a strong sense of calm and indifference that I think might be necessary to withstand so many sad stories of neglect, insecurity and human frailties. The story of the nine-year-old boy was perhaps the most effecting. The fact that they couldn’t move forward with the therapy until they both realized that the child could not be fixed talks to the extent of mental illness and our own biases towards what is normal and what is not.

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Book Review: Antidote to Venom by Willis Freeman Crofts

Antidote to Venom
Title: Antidote to Venom (Inspector French #17) by Willis Freeman Crofts
Genre: Mystery
Source: Library Copy
Format: Paperback
Publisher: British Library Crime Classic, (first published 1938)

This book I just stumbled upon browsing the new fiction shelves at the library one day. Its been quite a while since the last new episode of Sherlock and I was in the mood for just a classic murder mystery without all the thriller fluff that takes up most of modern-day mystery books. Plus, it’s a British classic crime novel, and I have enjoyed the last few of that genre that I read. This one in particular caught my eye because of its history. Willis Freeman Crofts was just as well-known in the mystery literary circles as Agatha Christie and Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle. With this particular novel, he inverted the typical mystery formula by presenting the views from the murder’s perspective. It was quite a novel take during his time.

In an English city, a murderer colluded with a local zookeeper, George Surridge to use snake venom to kill an old professor in order to gain his inheritance. The novel starts out with the murders, setting up their motives and already putting the reader’s sympathies in question. The famed Inspector French doesn’t even make an appearance until nearly the last fourth of the novel, just when you think things are wrapped up the murderers will be able to get away with their scheme. The entire process was so interesting to me. Especially the way the two accomplices worked together. One procured the venom, but had no idea how the other administered the venom to the victim. Since the reader was kept in the dark, we were able to follow through Inspector French’s detective process and piece together the missing parts of the puzzle to figure out how it was done, not necessarily who it was done by.

Since the book was written in the 1930’s, there’s a certain elegance to it, a subtle and snarky sense of humor belies the entire book. George Surridge is trapped in a loveless marriage. He starts an affair with a young woman he meets at the zoo. Soon, his affair ends up putting him in debt that only the inheritance of his aunt will rescue. Although he catches himself wishing her dead, he takes no actions and feels guilty (sort of) for his thoughts. When his aunt does actually pass away, he finds out from the lawyer, Capper, that all of the inheritance money has been spent. This is how Capper recruits his accomplice. Capper explains that the death of his uncle will provide both men with the funds that they so desperately need. Here we have motive, as well as a basic outline of how the murder will take place. The book was a wonderful read. I was eagerly looking for more books in the Inspector French series, as he works likes a Colombo type of detective. Those are always fun stories. I loved watching Colombo as a child with my mom. Unfortunately, there are no more books by Crofts available in my little area of the Bay Area. Maybe more will be re-published soon. This was a wonderfully engrossing novel that any mystery or British literature fan will appreciate and enjoy.

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Book Review: Goodnight June by Sarah Jio

Goodnight June
Title: Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library Copy
Format: Audio Book
Publisher: Plume 2014
Narrator: Katherine Kellgren


Now that I have a nearly 30 minute commute and an hour-long lunch break 5 days a week, I’ve been seeking out more audio books to fill up my time. Sadly, I’m ridiculously picky about audio books and tend to stop listening after the first 5 minutes if I don’t like a narrator. One of my co-workers, who incidentally has an hour-long commute and also listens to audio books, told me to just power through and the book a try. So I did that with Goodnight June, even though instinct told me to stop after the first few minutes.

June is a high-powered executive at a New York City bank, who specializes in shutting down businesses that have over-withdrawn and are at risk of foreclosure. She’s good at what she does. She’s stopped having feelings for the poor souls whose life’s work she’s shuttering because of missed mortgage payments. She’s so good and focused on her work that she gets panic attacks on a regular basis. After a visit to the doctor for one of these attacks, June receives an email informing her of the death of her beloved Aunt Ruby. June has also inherited Aunt Ruby’s children’s bookstore, Bluebird Books in Seattle. For the next two weeks, June stays in Ruby’s apartment above the bookstore to sort out the details.

This is pretty much where the book goes awry. At some point within days of June’s arrival, she seems to have slipped the skin of high-powered, soulless bank executive and is all of a sudden a loving and compassionate girl. She and the chef who runs the restaurant next to the bookstore fall in love within days. He co-owns the restaurant with his ex-fiancé, who gives June her blessing after a couple of days. So many things happen so quickly and suddenly within a couple of days that its mind-boggling. There are also a steady stream of mysterious letters hidden throughout the bookstore, although Ruby didn’t really make it that difficult to find them. June figured out the hunt fairly quickly and referred to them a lot in the book. The letters were written between Ruby and the author Margaret Wise Brown. The letters were actually the best part about the book, although even then, they felt forced and contrived. One of my issues with this story is that everything just happened for June. The scene with Bill and Melinda Gates had me laughing and I don’t think I was meant to find it funny. Even the love story was on fast-forward. Everything just happened with no conflict, no development or growth.  I think that’s mostly because the author’s time-span for the book was all of 2 weeks to maybe a month. She crammed in way too many events and developments for such a short span of time. I wish she had spaced it out over a year or so, to really show a realistic growth and character development of June. There were also pretty huge plot holes that made the big reveal at the end of the book predictable right from the start. There are a number of side-stories that led to nowhere. June and the saga with her sister. The way that entire conflict wrapped up was incredibly hollow. This grudge was built up throughout the entire book, hinted at before finally revealed. Then the entire resolution took place in all of a few minutes. It just wasn’t realistic. Nothing in this book happened in a realistic timeline or process.

I picked up this audio book right after finishing Delicious, which is also about books, mysterious letters, scavenger hunts and old-time grudges. This book also has virtually all 4 or 5-star reviews on LibraryThing. The difference between narrator, storytelling abilities and plot of the two books is miles apart. Julia Whelan, who narrated Delicious, is one of my favorite narrators with her incredible ability to mimic different accents and voices for men and women. Katherine Kellgren came across as very sharp-toned and her Spanish accent sounded Russian. She didn’t do the best job differentiating between characters, she’d often slip into the voice of June’s sister when it was June talking throughout the book. Similarly with other characters. No one had a distinct personality the way Whelan had ascribed to the characters in Delicious.

Lots of people loved this book and loved the author. I may have liked the print version more than the audio, but this book just wasn’t for me. It’s probably a good, light-hearted beach read for someone who just wants a fun love story.

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Book Review: Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style by Carson Tate

Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style

Title: Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style by Carson Tate
Genre: Non-Fiction, Organization
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Portfolio 2015
ISBN: 9781591847304


Right in the middle of June, I promoted from part-time librarian to full-time librarian. The leap from 20 hours to 40 hours a week took a much larger toll on my personal life than I could have ever been prepared for. I’ve been lucky in life to have been able to work part-time since the birth of my son a couple of years ago. I pretty much had it all. I had my home life and my work life in a perfect balance. Then I promoted to full-time and everything went wonky. Life at home was rushed and stressful. Life at work was rushed and stressful. Mostly because of the extra hours, the extra workload, and extra responsibilities that come with being a full-time librarian. The difference between part-time and full-time is ridiculous. There are more committees, more meetings, more supervising, more corresponding, more and more things both big and small to keep track of and monitor.

This book by Carson Tate I stumbled upon by complete accident in the library one day. Both the cover and the title stood out to me right away. When I began reading this book, I realized that the author took a completely different slant on organization than other books in this genre. While so many books and articles focus primarily on time management, Tate’s book differs in that she focuses on work management. Once the work is managed, the time management just naturally follows suit. Initially, she has each reader take a small personality quiz to see what their productivity style is. Although I had myself pegged as an Arranger based on the description, the quiz stationed me as a Planner and Prioritizer. The fourth option is Visualizer, which I am 100% at not. I ranked quite low in that category. Each chapter covers a different element, from creating a working space at home or at the office, to emails and meeting preparation. Each chapter has a breakdown of tips and advice for each of the different productivity styles. I read through all four descriptions, picking and choosing the ones that I could best apply to my life at the library. Although the selections for the Prioritizer and Planner for the most appropriate for me, I did find a few gems in the Arranger and Visualizer fields.

What was most helper was Carson’s guide to creating a To-Do list. It’s just not any to-do list. This list has really changed how I approach work when I arrive in the mornings. It’s a multi-step process, but well worth the time. First she has you do a “brain dump” which is basically listing out all of your to-do lists, no matter what they are, work or personal. During this process, my list had already pretty much come out in categories. These categories I later added to, or reshuffled so that it made more sense grouping like responsibilities together. After this initial brain-dump, the next step is to look towards the upcoming month. Access goals, outcomes and projects. Basically getting a general bird’s eye-view of what needs to be accomplished in the next 30 days. Then, it’s the weekly view. This should be done either at the start or end of each week. I like to do this at the start. I sit down with my list of projects for the month. I then select a few choice projects to focus on for that week. What absolutely needs to be done at this time. Then I write out a week’s project list. After that comes the daily project list. For this, Tate suggests to select no more than 3 major projects to focus on during the day. This ensures that these projects receive a proper amount of attention and detail, can be accomplished in a day, but also leaving wiggle room in the day’s schedule for unplanned emergencies or disruptions.

This type of planning has really been my saving grace. I feel like I’m off the hamster wheel of work assignments. For so long, I felt like I’d finish a project, but never feel like I had actually accomplished anything. Now with my list of projects, my list of goals, my list of needs and responsibilities, I can tackle each work day with some form of confidence. So far, I’ve been using Tate’s system for a little over a month. But I noticed a different immediately in the first week of using her system. Her emphasis on work management, rather than time management is really the best took for balanced a varied and hectic work schedule. Especially since she does take into consideration modern-day technology and work environments. I was hesitant with this book, thinking it might be more for corporate cubicle employees, but it surprisingly did apply to the library field.

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Weekend Cooking: Book Review – Delicious by Ruth Reichl



Title: Delicious by Ruth Reichl
Source: Library copy
Format: audiobook
Publisher: Random House, 2014
ISBN: 9781400069620

Billie Breslin is a girl with a magical palate and a flair for cooking. This skill, however, goes unused as Billie moves from Santa Barbara to New York to work for the famed food magazine, Delicious. After a year at the magazine, the owner decides to fold the magazine and fire all of its employees except for one. Billie remains as the sole employee to ensure the Delicious Guarantee that all the printed recipes satisfy their customers. This requires a lot of phone calls and research. In the now abandoned mansion, Billie finally gains access to the library. A secret room that has been locked and sealed for decades. After researching a particular recipe, Billie stumbled upon a series of letters from the famed James Beard and a young girl named Lulu living in Indiana. Soon, Billie realizes that each letter holds a clue as to where the next letter would be filed in the library’s archives. Putting together the clues, Billie learns not only about Lulu’s life during World War II, but she gains some valuable insight into her own life as well.

The narration by Julia Whelan was purely mesmerizing. The story, despite some flaws, eye-rolling moments and predictability, was well-written and well executed. The characters had a respectable depth and differentiation. I’m so used to supporting characters blending into each other, that is was refreshing to read a book where each side character stood apart. I’m not quite sure if I can credit that to the author or to the narrator though. Whelan’s impression and different voices were superb.

The story did have some flaws. The whole ugly duckling into a beautiful swan scene with Billie was some over-the-top and unnecessary. A girl who never put any effort or thought into how she looked, ate bad take-out Chinese food each night and never exercised ends up a body of a model and a hidden flair for putting outfits together. I also didn’t understand why someone with a deep-rooted avoidance of cooking, to the point of it inducing panic attacks, would want to work at a food magazine where cooking takes places around the clock. The storyline with her sister was predictable from the first email as was the eventual love story.

All that aside, I really did enjoy the story. I LOVED the library scavenger hunt. It was so clever the librarian, Birdie, hid the letters and the clues that Billie had to look for to find the next letter. I loved reading about Lulu’s childhood with her insecurities and uncertainties, all during World War II. Reichl definitely did her research and presented a very unique and personal take on the war from a small-town outlook. Reichl is known as a food writer, and it’s clearly evident how skilled she is when she wrote about the kitchens, the cooking and the food. I was craving Italian food non-stop when listening to this book. It’s definitely a good choice for a foodie.

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page.


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Upcoming reviews & what I’m currently reading

Reviews are coming! I’ve been reading books faster than I can type up my thoughts. I’ve also been crazy busy between work and life, so I’ve been neglecting my blog for a bit trying to get my life back in a balance. I should have some reviews coming in the next couple of weeks. I’ve finished 3 books in the last two weeks, so those will be up first. My new goal is to break 40 books by the end of the year. I know I’ve started more than 40 books since January, but I abandon books fairly easily when I don’t like the writing or the audiobook narrator. So 40 is my goal for the year. Lets see how far I get.

What I Read

Delicious!  Quick review: I loved this book!

Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity StyleQuick review: A great resource for work management, not time management. It’s a variant on all those time management/organization books.

Goodnight June Quick review: Wonderful premise, lackluster execution.

What I’m Reading/Listening to

Antidote to Venom Quick summary: Early 20th century British crime novel set in a zoo. It’s so engrossing.

A Taste for Intrigue: The Multiple Lives of François Mitterrand Quick summary: A look inside the life and times of Francois Mitterand, one of France’s most memorable presidents.

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves Quick summary: “Stephen Grosz draws short, vivid stories from his 25-five-year practice in order to track the collaborative journey of therapist and patient as they uncover the hidden feelings behind ordinary behavior.” (

Book Review: Thirty Million Words by Dana Suskind, MD

Thirty Million Words: Building a Child's BrainTitle: Thirty Million Words: Building a Child’s Brain. Tune In, Talk More, Take Turns by Dana Suskind MD
Source: Library copy
Publisher: Dutton, 2015
ISBN: 9780525954873
Genre: Early Literacy

Find this book at your local library

Dr. Suskind’s involvement with early childhood education and literacy comes from a rather unique perspective. Dr. Suskind is a pediatric cochlear implant surgeon, giving children the gift of sound and hearing. It was during the post-op and follow-ups with her young patients that she began noticing peculiarities and shocking differences in language acquisition, intelligence and emotional development. Her observations led her down the vast rabbit-hole of research, study and data regarding early childhood brain development. The most notable study on this field is the Hart & Risley 30 Million Word Gap study conducted in the 1980’s. Through meticulous data collection, Hart and Risley stumbled upon a wide gap between children from low-income families and children from high-income families. Financial disparities aside, it was found that by the time a child is ready to enter Kindergarten, a child from a low-income family will have heard 30 million few words than a child from a high-income family. 30,000,000. That is a whopping gap when it comes to setting the educational foundations of our nation’s children. Studies have shown that by the time a child is 3 years old, 80% of their brain has developed. By the time a child is 6, 95% of their will have been developed. The very early years, the zero to 3, are monumentally important for a child’s future academic and personal success. But since preschool doesn’t normally start for children under they turn 3, and the Kindergarten starting age is around 5, there is large number of children that fall under the educational radar.

Enter Dr. Suskind. With a bevy of data, science and facts at her side, she develops the Thirty Million Words Initiative to help bridge the gap and provide every child a fair chance at success in their lives. It’s very compelling for new parents who are not aware of the power of talking to their children. Suskind breaks down her Initiative into three basic activities for adults:

3TsTune In by paying attention to what your child is communicating to you.
Talk More with your child using descriptive words to build his vocabulary.
Take Turns by encouraging your child to respond to your words and actions.  (courtesy of

I really did enjoy Suskind’s book, but all while reading it, I felt like something was lacking. She spent a great portion of the beginning talk about the research that she conducted, which was great. But then, when she got to the actual 3 T’s (or 3 C’s in Spanish) the chapters were short and didn’t really provide very many tips. The main points of the book can be summed up as: Talk to your kids. Read, Sing, Play. Engage with your children. I think her ideas and research would have been better suited as a long article rather than an entire book. I do love her bibliography and it has given me a huge list of articles and books to read as early childhood literacy has been my primary focus as a librarian during the last few years. Suskind’s program works as a workshop for parents. It is promoted as a curriculum that will help parents harness their strengths when interacting with their child. It teachers parents how to expand on ideas, how to talk to their children, how to observe what their child is doing and to build on those experiences. For the most part, this is a Chicago based initiative, and I’m curious as to their results of the program.

This is a topic that hits close to home as I see and work with a number of children across the socio-economic range. I try to instill a sense of confidence and pride in parents that come to the library. My library system has taken part of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten initiative and we have sign-ups in massive numbers at the library and at outreach events. Parents care about their children and they want them to succeed. It’s just that so few parents know that the first 3 years are really the most important when it comes to creating a scaffolding for the future. This is a good book for anyone wanting to get their feet wet in the data of early literacy. There are so many excellent resources out there. I really feel as if there is a new emerging focus on the Zero to 3 age-range right now, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

Book Review: How to Eat a Small Country by Amy Finley

How to Eat a Small Country: A Family's Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a TimeHow to Eat a Small Country by Amy Finley
Memoir, France
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Broadway Books,
ISBN: 9780307984968

To be quite honest, I’m not sure how to summarize this book at all. It’s about Amy Finley’s troubled marriage, it’s about how she makes her family go overseas to spend 6 months eating their way through France in an attempt to save her marriage. However, she doesn’t really talk about her marriage, or how this trip overseas resolves any of their problems. As a food memoir, the book is pretty decent. Finley provides some wonderful historical looks into the lesser known areas of Southern France. Provence usually gets all the accolades, a few specific cities in particular. I liked that I had no knowledge of the cities she visited and it was interesting to learn about the food history in those regions.

Beyond that though, the book was disjointed, vague and the author’s tone was that of a petulant child writing in a diary than of a women trying to convene some sense of balance back into her life. Her descriptions and depictions of her family were horribly cruel. Her husband came off as controlling and somewhat mentally abusive. Although what he did and why he did what he did was never explained. She makes a casual reference to having won a Food Network Cooking show and having to choose between her marriage and career because he threatened divorce. She signed up for the show because she was bored and depressed at home. However, I don’t think either of them expected her succeed and he was particularly not ready for her to win and have a career in New York when they lived in Santa Barbara, California. I still have no idea what he did that shook up the entire family so badly that they had to go to France to save their marriage.

Although her descriptions of food and the food history were enlightening, it seems like Finley had a penchant for picking mediocre restaurants for their trip. I’m still struggling to take seriously her 2 page complaint about a waiter having changed into his street clothes before leaving them with the bill at the end of his shift. Her children were poorly behaved in virtually every mention of their names and they by far seemed to have suffered the worst from the marital strife their parents were going through. I could go on and on about what this memoir is not. What it is though, are disjointed and vague thoughts about a struggling marriage. It is about Finley running away from her problems and not wanting to address them, only complain about them. What was she looking to find in France? She didn’t find it by the time the book ended. There was no resolution, there was no sign towards resolution. According to the book blurb, they are still married. So I guess they figured it out somehow.

Book Review: Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth / Audio Book narrated by Nicola Barber
Source: Library Copy

I’ve been a big fan of the TV for the past couple of years. I think season 4 aired its last episode in May. I’ve been wanting to read Jenny’s memoirs about her time at the East End of London since I began watching the show. I was happy to find the audiobook at my library yesterday so that I could hear these stories while I did my travelling around town for work and personal errands. I’ve been a big fan of the TV show for years and have just finally picked up the audio book. I’m sad to say that the TV show gave many of Worth’s stories happy endings that sadly didn’t happen in real life. But I guess that’s the fact of life, there are no happy endings for everyone. So many of the tragic and heartbreaking stories that Jenny discusses in full detail in her book were given a somewhat happy ending in the show. Although I know its unrealistic of me, but I’m in a state of shock of just how horrid life was in London less than 100 years ago. So many of her stories had me crying in my car, rushing home to hug my toddler in appreciation.

The ones that particularly clung to me where about poor Mrs. Jenkins and Mary. My heart broke for Mrs. Jenkins and the loss of her five children one by one. Particularly since her youngest child was just about the same age as mine is now. To imagine going through what she went through, which just horrible disdain from the government that was supposed to care for her was so wretched.  Also with Mary. Her story was equally deplorable. An abusive childhood in Ireland that led to forced prostitution in London. I’m glad the value of human life has evolved since then, but that such atrocities were happening less than a hundred years ago in the reputed-to-be noble England was mind-boggling.

What I appreciated about Jenny’s memoir is that despite the inescapable realities of poverty, she and the nuns manage to find a sense of peace and humanity in Poplar. The relationships they build with the community is so trusting and caring. The few bright lights of happiness in the city can show that not all humanity is lost in the world. It’s just hidden, and you really have to look to find it. Jenny as a narrator and observer of the East End really grew on me. Although she came to the region biased and naïve, she left slightly more aware of the world. Her compassion and understanding of poverty developing throughout her time there and her experiences with the families. It really is a touching memoir and I’m glad the TV show did the stories and all the Poplar characters justice in their depictions. Especially Sister Monica Joan. She’s far more likeable in the show than in the book.