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Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times Paperback – August 29, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Docklands were poverty stricken, dirty, and recently bombed during World War II. People lived in condemned buildings among rats, grime, and violence. Worth worked out of a Nunnery, providing prenatal care, delivering babies in their homes, and checking up on the moms and babies afterward. It was a busy life with highly unpredictable hours.
One of the most memorable women in the book was Conchita Warren. Worth delivered two of her babies, numbers 24 and 25! The Warren family all lived together in a small London apartment. What was most remarkable--apart from the vast number of children--was the fact that Conchita spoke no English. Her soldier husband had met and married her in Spain and brought her home with him. "Quite suddenly, with blinding insight, the secret of their blissful marriage was revealed to me," Worth wrote. "She couldn't speak a word of English, and he couldn't speak a word of Spanish!"
Some readers may be turned off by the subject, fearing gore, blood, and other unpleasant things often associated with birth. But this is one book you don't want to judge by its cover. The Midwife is, more than anything, the story of an amazing woman in 1950s London and the people she met. I recommend this book to anyone interested in history, motivating stories, or who just wants a good read.
by Jennifer Melville
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
This is a major aside, but it might help explain my interest in the profession of midwifery. I think women who choose midwives for their birthing option have amazing experiences. However, I have to admit that I didn't choose to go that route -- mainly because I am a major chicken and wanted an epidural. (In fact, when I was admitted to the hospital to deliver my first daughter and was asked about my pain plan, I told them DRUGS - early and often.) I find it very ironic that my daughter was actually delivered by a midwife because the doctor never made it to the delivery room in time! My husband and I agreed that the woman who delivered my daughter was a very supportive and inspirational person who made my delivery extra-special.
Since THE MIDWIFE is a memoir, I was expecting it to be all about the author Jennifer Worth. I figured that this book would include information about how the author became a midwife -- the reason behind her decision as well as lots of information on her training, etc. However, much to my surprise, this book wasn't really all about Ms. Worth. Rather, the "memoir" was filled with amazing stories about the mothers (and others) that she encountered during her years as a midwife. In addition, I was surprise by how readable this book was -- there were so many touching stories as well as humorous ones that existed within the pages of this book.Read more ›
"The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times" is more than a tale of delivering babies. It is a work of history and anthropology as well as a personal memoir. The chapter-by-chapter blend of all these elements is told by a woman with a keen eye to all that she saw and experienced. No detail escapes her sharp eye. Each chapter is a story unto itself. The chapters roll up to an epic tale.
Why did this culture end in the early 1960's? Worth offers up three reasons for this: loss of dockyard jobs; demolition of the tenements; and arrival of the pill resulting in much smaller family size.
Huge families were still the norm in the Docklands of the East End in the 1950's as they had been for many decades. Families typically lived in two or three-room tenements, some without running water and most without a bathroom. No one practiced birth control. Young people married young.
Many of the tenement blocks were built in the 1840's and 1850's. Those that survived World War II bombing had undergone little structural alteration in the years since. This type of living would support a modest working-class family that allowed a measure of dignity in an era still largely missing the social support systems and welfare in Britain today.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Eye-opening to say the least. I learned so much about a section of history that I doubt I would have known except for this book. Delightful and horrifying, all at once.Published 6 days ago by Nancy A. Pontious
I haven't watched any of the show so don't know how it compares. I found the book interesting in a historical perspective. Now reading volume 2.Published 8 days ago by Mary K. Asma
I love this book. I was so sad when I read the last page. I enjoyed the stories and Jennifer explaining the history of the language. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Leshia Tibbits
Couldn't wait to read each evening. Enjoyed it all, especially the end which left me breathlessPublished 11 days ago by Stephen C. Hook