This doesn’t really contain any spoilers- Hooray!
Some of you may have heard of the sensation that is the TV show ‘Call the Midwife’. It details the lives of the midwives and nurses working in the poor areas of London, in the 1950’s.
The TV series ‘Call the Midwife’ was inspired by the memoirs of the same name, by Jennifer Worth. (Or Nurse Jenny Lee, as she’s referred to before she married.) It’s crazy that it’s all completely true. The series does wander from real events in some cases, but I’m not talking about the series today, I’m talking about the book.
The book explores many issues and themes, such as: Disease, squalor, prejudice, class divide, social attitude, racism, prostitution, affairs, pregnancy, religion, love, loss and death.
There are also Nuns. Can’t forget the nuns.
I hadn’t even realised there was a book until a little while ago. My sister had bought it and didn’t tell me about it! It my view, she had basically hidden it from me. I was very annoyed. Aha. But, to be fair, I did see her buying it a while ago, I just forgot about it. Anyway, having loved the show; I was so eager to read this and got stuck in.
I was struck how shocking and tragic the book was. So many traumatic experiences and terrible situations are told in the story. We don’t realise how bad conditions were then, and how people suffered. It’s a very interesting read, and also presents how different medicine and midwifery was back then.
In some areas it was a little graphic, when describing the medical examinations or labour. It wasn’t vulgar or anything; it was just plain and honest about what was happening…down there. Which was fine, if a little jolting. You don’t normally come across that in fiction, like, they might pick a more appealing/unassuming word etc…. But it wasn’t an issue. It was like a professional medical practitioner describing events, which makes sense. It was scientific.
It was quite distressing or poignant in some areas. And there were a lot more unhappy parts than happy parts.
The minor characters were barely mentioned. In the show, they are a big part of the story. But this book tells of Jenny Lee’s experiences, not theirs- so this is understandable. I was just a little bit sad because my favourite character- Trixie- was only mentioned in about three sentences. And her personality was a little different. But I can’t complain, because worth is writing about the actual person. Rather than the more likeable, entertaining Trixie of the show.
But this is getting too ‘book vs film’ aha.
It’s so brave how Jennifer worth put herself out there. It’s mainly about her patients and their stories, but it also tells a bit about her own life, and it’s commendable that she wrote in a personal way.
I liked the structure of the book, it’s written in an organised way. Each chapter focuses on one case, or one person in particular. We get to know and understand the people presented. Worth describes the events that transpired, gives some context and also sometimes writes how it affected her personally as well. The book isn’t that long, so it didn’t take me much time to read.
The cockney slang was cool, it showed they used to talk. It is very colloquial, and all written phonetically, so the reader get can to grips with the accent. Worth writes in the notes at the end how difficult it was to put how the language sounds onto paper, and how challenging it was to get this accurate.
I liked Call the Midwife. In a lot of ways, it’s not at all what I expected. But even though it was sad, I liked it.
Jennifer Worth has written some more books as well, that continue the story of the midwives and nuns of Nonnatus house and the people of the East end.
(P.S the show is now available on Netflix! Oh yeeaahh.)
Full of heart-breaking and heart-warming scenes alike, with great characters and an old time feel, this is a great show. Only, there is quite a lot of childbirth scenes. Although it’s not too graphic, don’t worry! It is suitable for most people- rated as 12 years or older.
I hope you liked this post! Let me know in the comments; what do you think of Call the Midwife? (the book or the show, whichever.)
Thanks for reading.
By the way, sorry I haven’t posted anything for a while, I’ll try to post once a week from now on. we’ll see how that goes… aha.