Once upon a time I stumbled upon the BBC series Call the Midwife on Netflix. I generally enjoy what the BBC has to offer and I devoured this entire series in a matter of a few weeks. I cried every single episode. Perhaps I should preface all the crying with the fact that I am pregnant, and tend to be easily touched into tears when I am pregnant. I was delighted when I discovered the series was based on books, which I quickly ordered and then devoured the Midwife Trilogy in a matter of days.
If you have seen the series (which I recommend to the ladies… my husband wasn’t so interested), then you will be familiar with most of the stories contained as the first book follows Jenny Lee as a midwife in training in London’s poverty stricken East End after WWII. Though the television series usually ends on an upbeat note, Worth (Lee’s married name) is brutally honest and many of the recognizable stories do not have the enchanting endings scripted to be heart warming for the tv drama. Worth’s writing style is easy to read, and unapologetic. She gives a brief history of midwifery and medical terms so that the reader is familiar enough with the subject to follow along. Worth’s memoir covers many social and political issues of the time, abortion, mixed raced marriages, the disabled, birth control, prostitution, and mental health issues. Worth treats every subject very honestly and does not try to make herself the heroine of any particular remembrance. She honestly speaks about her naivety, her lack of empathy in many situations, and her revulsion at times to the sights and the sounds of the East End.
I ADORED this book. And yes, I did spend a fair amount of crying. Having given birth two times (and quickly coming to number three) I was both interested and repelled by some of the medical practices used in the 1950s. I believe that women will actually find this book more interesting than most men, and would recommend it to a wide range of women from my mother-in-law who was a nurse, to my friend who is an Anglophile. There is much in Worth’s Midwife book to interest even those not terribly interested in child birth.