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Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse [Kindle Edition]

Jennifer Worth
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (471 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $8.35
You Save: $7.64 (48%)
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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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


Dignified and unsentimental social history. OBSERVER

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: 573 KB
  • Print Length: 307 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062270044
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (January 22, 2013)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009UWRTH6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,654 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
64 of 65 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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33 of 36 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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11 of 12 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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10 of 11 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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19 of 24 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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7 of 8 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing like the first book; not what I expected March 10, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved the first book in this series because I love reading stories (especially true ones) about midwives. I picked this one up because it was on sale and I assumed it would be more of the same; stories about Worth's experiences as a midwife. Unfortunately, this book contains nothing about midwifery and is instead focused on stories she heard second-hand from the neighborhood where she worked. The stories were at times graphic and somewhat disturbing, and overall I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps I should have read the description more closely before buying. If you are looking for something like the first book, look elsewhere!
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2 of 2 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly interesting
It spent most of the book talking about one person that she cared for. I enjoyed the first book more.
Published 11 hours ago by D. Owens
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
I think this is one of the best books I have read in the past few years. She is a great story-teller and I love the history.
Published 1 day ago by Lynne M.
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, Easy Read
Again, it's a series. I believe health professionals and women, especially those that used a midwife for delivery would enjoy them better than most people. Read more
Published 1 day ago by James D. McIntosh
4.0 out of 5 stars Call the Midwife: Shadows of the workhouse
Amazing story of nuns and nurses in the poorest sections of England imaginable.
Couldn't put it down. Now I want to read the other 2 books in the series.
Published 1 day ago by Mollie Klotz
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read book
Any fan of the show would love this book. It contains much more in depth versions of some of the stories portrayed in the series. I could not put it down!
Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars I rate it this way becuse I felt like I was there experiencing what...
I did not know that the people who lived in those areas after the war, experienced such poverty and hardships. It was a history lesson for me. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Valerie Morgan
5.0 out of 5 stars Something new about something old
Love the TV series.. loved the book. What a lovely niche this book has filled. Always love to learn about how it used to be.
Published 2 days ago by Sharon L Gregory
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read.
Brought me up to date on PBS show so I am able to really appreciate the series, dateline and characters.
Published 2 days ago by K. Kurshinsky
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning broadened by this book. What a read!
I did not know much at all about this period of time in London's dockside neighborhoods. The workhouses were intense.
Published 3 days ago by deeettra
5.0 out of 5 stars Love these books
I love this series of books. They are very true to the series on PBS. Love all of the characters.
Published 3 days ago by Shari Goley
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