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.

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