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Taking care of 'em
Call The Midwife - Jennifer Worth
Member Name: oioiyou
Call The Midwife - Jennifer Worth
Advantages: Easy to follow, leaves the reader wanting more, places and people very well described
Disadvantages: Random misprints (doesn't really bother me that much)
I had wanted to see the television program "Call the midwife" (a three part drama covering three books Jennifer Worth wrote about east end life in the 1950's-there is a fourth book but it is technically not part of the midwifery trilogy) when it was on but after missing the first two of three episodes and not finding it on catch-up I moved on. Some friends had spoke of how gripping it was so when I saw the book I told my husband it would be a good birthday present for me (wink, wink!). I was eager to get started with this book but wasn't able to for a couple days as we had friends staying with us.
A little history with me and books: I enjoy the idea of a good book and am currently trying to teach my son to enjoy books. I have always found reading hard. I read quite slow and there have been times where I will read a sentence about four times before I get my head around it. I don't have any confirmed learning disabilities but when I was about fifteen after years of asking for help I went for some testing and the testing company told my school to allow me extra time with exams. They may have told my mother what they thought was going on but I don't remember being told myself. Personally I think I suffer with a form of dislexia. Anyway the point is that I have always wanted to enjoy books but very rarely finished one. I like the stories and begin to picture the characters in my head but I stop wanting to sit and have a read because of the difficulty.
Each chapter is it's own mini story. Only a few chapters carry on a story from the one before which works quite well for me. I find I have to re-read the last couple pages of a chapter to remember where I left off with most books but knowing the characters is enough to jump right in with Call the Midwife. Many of the stories show a dialog going on between characters with a ton of cockney slang. Good fun reading it and throwing in an accent for a giggle.
The book first welcomes the reader in with photos of Jennifer Worth (the author) and her family over the years. I have always been a fan of history so this was a perfect welcome for me. Made me excited to begin the story. Important then and now is nursing and hospital care and Jenny felt that midwifery was her calling. Coming from a more sheltered West End background Jenny found herself in an East End convent for midwifery training. Deep in the heart of the Docklands in the 1950's Jenny meets many characters and tells of the things she saw and was a part of.
One of my favourite chapters is the one about a young boy who befriends one of the training nurses. The nurse is learning to ride a bicycle it takes her some time to get the hang of it. The boy is a bit of a touchy in the neighborhood and helps to stop the other children from putting her off he learning. He stays with her many days and nits to look out for her. The nurse is so pleased with his kindness that she putts her pennies together and buys him a cycle of his own. The chapter ends like this, " Twenty-five years later, a shy young girl called Lady Diana Spencer became engaged to marry Prince Charles, heir to the throne. I saw several film clips of her arriving at various engagements. Each time when the car stopped, the front near side door would open, and her bodyguard would step out and open the rear door for Lady Diana. Then he would stand, jaw thrust forward, legs slightly apart, and look coolly around him at the crowds, a mature Jack, still practising the skills he had acquired in childhood, looking after his lady." Still makes the hair on my arms rise and a smile appear on my face. Throughout the book some names are changed but I like to think that this man has read the lovely account of him as a kind and thoughtful child.
It is amazing to read about the conditions people lived in and gave birth in only half a century ago. My mother was born a short distance from Poplar in 1948 so at the same time as these stories are taking place. I have always known that things were tough and money was tight for her and my uncle growing up but to think that things were probably worse than I had originally pictured is sad even though i think they still were better of than some of the people Jenny met. I am sure there were some tenaments that were in better conditions during these times but Jenny visits some of the extremely poor along her travels.
The photos of people she knew, nursing posters and pictures of life in those days appear throughout the book and help the reader to picture the goings on. I think The author does a fabulous job describing the people she is talking about. I had no trouble getting a mental image of the nuns at the convent. She tells of a lady at a bus stop one day and the image painted in my mind of that girl is vivid as if I am meeting her myself. Not every chapter has a happy ending as thus goes real life.
Are there any downsides to this book? Well yes ... I started noticing every few pages that there would be a spelling mistake or a missing space between two words. At first I thought it was me but I showed a few to my husband and he confirmed I wasn't going crazy. I have noticed a good number of these print mistakes which in the greater scheme of things is of no importance but I find for me it makes me stumble for a minute before I can get myself around the sentence and moved on.
I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. The three part series was on over Christmas and I had set it to record but was fearful of watching it! This sounds ridiculous but my husband was afraid of seeing Lord of the Rings for the same reason. I have a picture in my head of the goings on in the stories and the way the characters look and I don't want that ruined. I got ready and sat down to watch it only to find the recording had clashed. I could have found a plus one station or something like that but I took the clash as a sign and sat down to read the end of the book instead.
The hardback illustrated edition I have was £14 in Waterstones when my husband bought it for me but you can pick up a paperback edition on Amazon for about £7.
A little extra I found out about the author: Jennifer Worth wrote her series of books in response to an article by Terri Coates (Royal College of Midwives Journal) which said that midwives weren't showing up enough in literature and called for "a midwife somewhere to do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets". Jennifer died in May 2011 from oesophageal cancer aged 75.
Oioiyou 2012 (c)
Summary: A very good book and I think I'll look into the others she has written
- Bullet Magnet - Mick Flynn
- Yellow Star - Jennifer Roy
- Today Everything Changes - Andy McNab
- Martin Luther King - Harry Harmer
- The Brontes - Kathryn White
- Beyond Nab End - William Woodruff
- War - Sebastian Junger
- Prelude to Power 1994-1997 - Alastair Campbell
- Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead - Paula Byrne
- A Song for Jenny: A Mother's Story of Love and Loss - Julie Nicholson