Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

by Jennifer Worth
4.3 150


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Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey

Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London's East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English, to the prostitutes of the city's seedier side.

An unfortgettable story of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the strength of remarkable and inspiring women, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series, which will soon return for its sixth season.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143123255
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/29/2012
Series: Call the Midwife Series , #1
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 43,482
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. 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 and 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, gaining the Licentiate of the London College of Music in 1974 and a Fellowship ten years later. Jennifer married Philip Worth in 1963 and they lived together in Hertfordshire. She died in May 2011, leaving her husband, two daughters and three grandchildren. Her memoirs are the basis for the popular TV series Call the Midwife.

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Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 150 reviews.
socksgirl More than 1 year ago
I first heard of Call The Midwife when I was flipping through channels and stumbled upon it on PBS. I was immediately drawn in and had to go back onto the website to watch all the episodes I missed. When the first season was over I did some investigating and found the show was based on the true memoirs of Jennifer Worth. There are actually 3 books in the series, this is the first of the three and each chapter is basically a short vignette of an experience nurse Jenny Lee had during her time at Nonnatus House. It is a fairly quick, easy yet interesting read. Made all the better because the stories are true. I would highly recommend for anyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a wonderful bio, highly recomend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tales of a British midwife in a poor, working class section of London in the 1950's. Very well written. I would highly recommend the book even if (maybe especially if) you have seen the TV series. To begin, you can appreciate what a wonderful job the series did capturing the characters and the spirit of the book. In addition, the book adds a lot of highly interesting sociological commentary that is just not found in the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is right in line with the PBS series "Call the Midwife". It may be a little graphic for some, but as a retired nurse, I found it right on the mark as far as providing maternity care for the indigent. Great descriptions of atmospheric London neighborhoods in regards to the weather and people. Enjoyed it a lot.
ignacio_4_bn More than 1 year ago
This book provided a lot of information on how people lived back then and how far we have come with our new technologies. Technologies that have helped save many lives. At times, I felt that I was reading a book for medical students because, although it's not meant, in any way, to be a medical reference book, it does explain a lot of things, of a medical nature, in great detail. Before reading this book I had no idea how undervalued the midwife was and how painstakingly hard it can be. From what I read, this kind of job can take a toll on you both physically and emotionally too. If nothing else, this book allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of what a midwife went through in the past and how, once again, technology has changed so many things, for the better, today. Jennifer Worth has a great way of keeping the reader engaged. A must read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well worth reading and hopefully you'lll get more out of the PBS Series if you do. Chapter at the end on Cockney is fascinating
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book gives more depth to the series. I enjoyed it and look forward to the second and third bookz!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jenny starts her Midwife Job in 1950's east-end London rather naive. As her work & story progresses, she grows to see, the women she delivers babies for, as the true Heroes of her work. I found this author easy to read, & her story so interesting I had to keep reading! I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book transports you to a time of simplicity and community awareness. The characters are thoughtfully described and you have stepped back into a different generation
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the "Call the Midwife" series. This book adds so much more to the story. As a postpartum nurse I love reading about childbirth in the 1950's but reading about English society at that time makes the story so much more interesting. Reading about living in the tennaments during that time and what life was like in East London during that time adds so much more to the story. If you like historical novels you will love this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this memoir. It was certainly a rough read in places but it's also terribly engrossing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the TV series so much that I had to buy this book. I enjoy reading about the daily lives of people throughout history, and this book describes women's health, public health, war recovery in London's East End and the manners and morals of the time. It is as beautiful as the show, with more exploration behind the characters' relationships and living conditions. And of course, there are all the births, which are as moving in the book as they are on the show.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It gave such a human side to a time in our history that we know little about. If you like British history, this is a great read and will keep you wanting more chapters.
manders204 More than 1 year ago
This was such a great book. This book opened my eyes to life in east London.
UtahSnowy More than 1 year ago
The BBC/PBS series follows the book in most cases. Some of the episoids come from the other books in this series. It was delightful to read it in her own words. I wish she had written more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you enjoyed the TV series you will enjoy the book. Extends the picture of their lives more. Some might not care for the descriptions of actual practice of helping deliver babies, but very informative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great book. I could identify with each character on some level.
txbkwrm50 More than 1 year ago
This book teases but doesn't deliver on several issues: the decision to enter nursing as a career, the progession from novice to expert midwife and the transition from agnostic to believer. We have a hint that the author had an unhappy love affair as a very young woman and went into nursing. But she never discusses how she hit upon nursing as a career or why she went on for midwifery training. There are several birth stories but we don't get a sense of progression from novice to expert in midwifery. The information about the birthing process is accurate but might be puzzling to a non-medical person. Lastly the author starts her time in the convent as an agnostic but is touched by the example of the nuns who are training her. We get the sense that there may have been a spiritual change but we have no information about how this change affects her practice as a nurse. In general the book was well-written but ultimately unsatifying because there were so many stories that needed to be fleshed out.
Anonymous 6 months ago
LisaDunckley More than 1 year ago
What a good book! Call The Midwife was funny, tender, and shocking by turns. Set in the 1950s in London, this is the debut of Jennifer Worth's series. A memoir of the beginning of Jennifer's career, this book is a series of anecdotes about all that is midwifery. However, it is also a glimpse of what the poor went through during that time frame. Mostly living in tenements or council housing, huge families lived in just a couple of rooms. Many of the women gave birth to more than TEN children—of course many didn't survive childhood, but it wasn't uncommon for women to have 13 or 14 births and ten kids to take care of. One woman in the book had the midwives out for her 24th birth!! This same woman, despite not speaking a word of English, instinctively hit on a modern treatment for premature babies, which was to “wear” the baby next to her skin in a sling. We now know that this helps the baby stay warm which means it uses fewer calories and needs less oxygen, but at the time, premature babies were whisked away and put in incubators with no cuddling or love. The children in poor families were working to help support their families. From an early age, they worked in the home, helping their mothers who were dressmakers or laundresses. Ten year olds were taking care of all of the younger children for women who went out to work. Frequently ten year olds were working full time themselves in factories, or sewing, or cleaning. While this sounds horrific, these kids were much better off than the orphaned ones. They went to “the workhouse”, where they were separated from their siblings and raised in what was the equivalent of prison. Many of the families lived in areas that were full of brothels, and the pregnant prostitutes occasionally become patients for the midwives. This was rare though, because unless they escaped, the prostitutes were physically forced into being butchered in back alley abortions. The midwives that Jennifer trained and worked with were mostly nuns. Some were peaceful, some were fierce. One nun, Sister Monica Joan, was very elderly and becoming senile, retired in Nonnatus House, where the nuns lived and operated. There were several funny anecdotes about her—at least they are funny now as they are read, I'm sure they were incredibly frustrating at the time! Well before the author wrote any books, she had the instincts of a journalist, and had an unending curiosity about her patients' lives. She is able to draw them out to find out these jewels of stories, which are incredible to read in modern times. This book is the first in a series about Jennifer's life, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Griperang72a More than 1 year ago
What did I think about the story: I really enjoyed this book. My daughter and I also watch this TV show on PBS and have enjoyed it. The author broke the stories up so that each chapter was a story which made the book very easy to read.  Although there were times I found myself wanting more of the story or more history of the nuns that she lived with. The author has so many stories to tell from her experiences as a midwife and let me tell you  that some of them are so strange that you may find yourself shaking your head. I will be getting the second book to read in the very near future.  What did I think of the cover: I have the version shown above and I like it because as I said before I am a fan of the TV show. The characters are well known to me now and I like how this covers shows many of them. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you saw t v first this may disappoint you