Call the Midwife was a Christmas present from one of my best friends, and was not really a book I had thought about, having missed the TV show. I wasn’t sure if it would be a book I would enjoy, as I tend to steer clear of real life style stories, unless it is a biography of someone famous I want to read about. I was pleasantly surprised!
Call the Midwife is Worth’s recollection of the challenges and triumphs training and working as a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. The East End was heavily bombed during the Second World War, mainly due to the Docklands, and the poverty that extended from this is still shockingly evident in the decades after the War and in Worth’s writing. Having completed some nursing training, Worth transfers to Nonnatus House, a convent run by nuns, who also act as District Nurses and midwives to those who need it in the East End. Throughout the course of the book Worth describes the sheer diversity of her job, from premature babies to ‘unexpected’ mixed race babies, to the shocking poverty and the horrors facing young runaway girls forced into prostitution.
Throughout my reading I experienced so many different emotions, going from laughing out loud to tears of shock and sadness. I became engrossed and involved in life in the East End and the lives of the many women who struggled through and flourished throughout lives riddled with poverty and uncertainty. Worth’s writing style was engaging and easily accessible, I truly feel I could have picked the book up after weeks of not touching it and still be right there in the heart of the action straight away. There were lots of occasions where I was squirming, mainly due to the sometimes graphic descriptions of childbirth and various other ailments affecting those who lived in such poverty. But despite this I still felt compelled to keep reading as Worth’s style ensured you quickly becainvokes part of each person’s life and individual struggle. Her description of the various characters she met is incredible; I loved Chummy and her upper class awkwardness and the mischievous nature of Sister Monica Joan. Perhaps my favourite characters were Len and Conchita Warren, who were married with X amount of children and didn’t even speak the same language. I love the romance of their story.
Overall for a book I had very little interest in before receiving it (especially in light of what I hear about the TV programme) I thoroughly enjoyed Call the Midwife. It is a heart warming, yet tragic read, that really brings to the life the hustle and bustle of the East End in the 1950s and I am so pleased my friend gave to me as a present.