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Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse (The Midwife Trilogy Book 2) [Kindle Edition]

Jennifer Worth
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (828 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The sequel to Jennifer Worth's New York Times bestselling memoir and the basis for the PBS series Call the Midwife

When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the direst section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood's most vivid chronicler. Woven into the ongoing tales of her life in the East End are the true stories of the people Worth met who grew up in the dreaded workhouse, a Dickensian institution that limped on into the middle of the twentieth century.

Orphaned brother and sister Peggy and Frank lived in the workhouse until Frank got free and returned to rescue his sister. Bubbly Jane's spirit was broken by the cruelty of the workhouse master until she found kindness and romance years later at Nonnatus House. Mr. Collett, a Boer War veteran, lost his family in the two world wars and died in the workhouse.

Though these are stories of unimaginable hardship, what shines through each is the resilience of the human spirit and the strength, courage, and humor of people determined to build a future for themselves against the odds. This is an enduring work of literary nonfiction, at once a warmhearted coming-of-age story and a startling look at people's lives in the poorest section of postwar London.

Editorial Reviews


“Barber delivers all the author’s compassion, frustration, and humor in a genuine, convincing manner. . . . A moving and memorable account of a special time and place.”

“The quality and pacing of the audio is excellent. The narrator, Nicola Barber, is a perfect match for the memoir and vividly recounts the hardships and poverty that Worth encountered during that time.”
      —Library Journal

About the Author

JENNIFER WORTH (1935-2011) trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, England. She then moved to London to train as a midwife. She later became a staff nurse at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, and then ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Euston. Music had always been her passion and in 1973 Jennifer left nursing in order to study music intensively. She gained the Licentiate of the London College of Music in 1974 and was awarded a fellowship ten years later.

NICOLA BARBER has appeared on stage in New York and across the country, including with Scarlett Johnansson in <i>The Nanny Diaries.</i> She holds a degree in theatre arts from UNC-Chapel Hill, and has taken classes at the London Academy of Dramatic Art. She has been training and performing voiceovers since 2001, and can be heard in video games, animation, commercials, and corporate videos, as well as on award-winning audiobooks.

Product Details

  • File Size: 750 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UWRTH6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,061 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
90 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadows of the Workhouse September 24, 2012
In her first book, Jennifer Worth introduced us to the life of a midwife in London's East End in the 1950's, and in this second book, we take up the stories of some secondary characters from the first book (Jane, Frank & Peggy, and Sister Monica Joan) as well as the story of an old soldier by the name of Joseph Collett. This book contains much less of Worth's own experiences and more of the stories of others that she encountered while working as a midwife. Some of the stories within have more to do with the institutional workhouse than others, but most have some connection thereto. I enjoyed the layout of the stories, logically arranged into three parts and appreciated the author's reflective, non-judgmental voice throughout the telling never condemning a person for actions or choices that were clearly a product of the times and the situations people found themselves in. Wonderful read and an excellent continuation of the first book in this series!
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderfully told story March 7, 2012
I just finished reading this book and I can say I loved it! It was painfully hard to read in many parts, especially parts about brutality towards children. the story needs to be told though, even the hardest parts because we have to acknowledge what a painful time this was and how not to repeat these mistakes.
there are several different stories throughout. All interwoven. All painful and joyful.

if you like to see into peoples lives and hear their stories, this is the books for you. Amazing.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the first one! February 10, 2013
By Whitney
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you are thinking of picking up Shadows of the Workhouse because you've seen the BBC series and or read a Memoir of Birth Joy and Hard times, don't expect it to be the same. This book is clearly less a memoir than an extrapolation of stories she heard and gathered while working as a midwife. There are details she clearly could not know presented as fact and there is not much at all about being a midwife. I did enjoy the portion about Joe the ex-military gentleman with ulcers on his legs (presented in the BBC series), but overall it doesn't measure up to the original Call the Midwife book.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadows of the workhouse May 12, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book and very well written. I could not put it down!The workhouses of early last century and before, were terrible places.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Tragic Memoir July 25, 2013
'Shadows of the Workhouse' is a brilliant memoir by Jennifer Worth that carries on her story of working as a nurse in the East End in the 1950s which began in her first installment, 'Call the Midwife.' Her descriptions of hardships endured by those who were forced to enter the workhouses near the turn of the century are heart-wrenching. Though she points out that in terms of social welfare they were well ahead of their time, that doesn't change anything for those people who suffered under the system. The first section especially focuses on people she encountered who grew up in the workhouse system. I found it curious that the second section centered on a woman who had never entered the workhouse, though she would have worked with people who were its victims. The third, and final, section tells the story of a man who entered the workhouse only in his old age after it was converted into a home for the elderly. Therefore, the title is somewhat misleading, but the stories are still amazing.

The story of Jane, Frank, and Peggy growing up in the workhouse together, and the long-term emotional effects that it had on them was full of emotional highs and lows. The reader cheers for their successes and cries for them when they are hurt. This story was the most relevant to the author's theme of the effects of the workhouse on those who were still alive two decades after they were officially closed. (Officially only because it would be impossible to just release thousands of poor people into the streets, so the workhouses carried on under other names with only slightly improved conditions for decades.) After this third of the book, I was ready to give it five stars.

The second portion of the book tells the story of Sister Monica Joan being on trial.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As brilliant as the other books in the trilogy September 6, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wonderful series. having watched the DVDS . I was eager to read the books. I loved this book and the way jennifer has detailed historical facts and laws to explain the way people lived in the East End in the era. Literary genius
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadows of the Workhouse May 2, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
An illuminating visit into the world of post-war Britain. A great read for social historians or for simply anyone who is interested in how people manage to cope with extreme poverty.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit disappointed May 26, 2012
By Carol
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After avidly reading Call the midwife,I looked forward to reading Shadows of the workhouse,expecting it to be just as good as it's predecessor. However,this was not the case-although Jennifer's account of life in the workhouse was gripping and extremely sad,I felt almost like I was reading a book that focussed entirely on this-I was expecting to read more stories about the women in Jennifer's care and the midwives' daily activities,but alas,there was'nt a lot relating to this.I finished the book feeling a little bit let down,although I cannot say I did'nt like the book-I did,but it was'nt quite what I was expecting.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware
Awful graphic accounts of child abuse. I'm sorry I read it. I really was not expecting this based on the first book on the series.
Published 12 hours ago by AnnaR
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!
Loved this book~ very good!
Published 11 days ago by Debbie Jenson
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved the series, loved the book.
Series true to book. Learned more about the history of the time. Loved revisiting all the beloved nuns, nurses and other Poplar folks from the series . Read more
Published 13 days ago by A. Greenberg
1.0 out of 5 stars Soft hearted people Beware!!!
i love the series. I loved the first book, though it was brutal in spots, for me anyway. I bought the audible version of the book. Read more
Published 15 days ago by J. A. Crowe
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 20 days ago by daniel j patenaude sr.
5.0 out of 5 stars It was an excellent read, looking forward to the next two books
It was an excellent read, looking forward to the next two books! Helps you know the characters on the T V show better.
Published 20 days ago by Patricia Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful read with good people insights
Not just the day to day thrill stories with action packed drama & pretty babies. This one comes with some serious stories a little deeper & shows how much of a connection she had... Read more
Published 20 days ago by lacey gal
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Enjoyed the women's trials and the help given
Published 23 days ago by Elizabeth Fritzinger
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Love the book. Love the place where I ordered it!!!
Published 24 days ago by Resie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Engrossing and well-written.
Published 24 days ago by Miriam Whittam
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