Alert the media; I finished another book! That’s TWO so far this summer vacation. This one is a special one in particular, because it was not only amazing but also has an amazing television adaptation. I finished it this afternoon at the Starbucks on W. Washington Avenue, so here’s my take on Call the Midwife, by Jennifer Worth.
Call the Midwife is the memoir of the late Jennifer Worth, who was a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. In the book, she calls herself “Jenny Lee” (her maiden name), and her journey begins when she steps into Nonnatus House. From the moment she meets batty Sister Monica Joan, she knows she’s in for a trip. We meet the rest of the nuns and midwives at Nonnatus House: sweet Sister Julienne, tough-as-nails Sister Evangelina, nurses Trixie and Cynthia, and of course, clumsy second banana Chummy Browne.
The situations that Jenny encounters range from inspiring to terrifying, and sometimes encompass both. Jenny doesn’t always handle things with the utmost grace; she doesn’t paint herself as a saint, which is refreshing to read, and she makes mistakes along the way, learning from them. I admit to having been spoiled a little by the excellent BBC TV series of the same name; the few episodes I have watched have magically recreated some of the scenarios from the book, but reading them is a different kind of magic. For example, the Conchita Warren storyline – the second part, specifically – was acted out wonderfully, but the language that Worth uses to break down just how powerful the maternal instinct of the human woman is makes you really ponder the miracle of birth. Really, the whole book does; as much as it is an insight into life in the poor side of London in the 1950s, it brings the experience of birth to a whole new level.