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April 24, 2009

The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

A Memoir of birth, joy and hard times.
Jennifer Worth's new book, The Midwife, was one I did not expect to like. While I happily went through both my pregnancies in the care of a midwife and would not want it any other way I did not think that a book all about the practice in London's East End in the 1950s would be all that engrossing.
I was completely wrong. Worth's book is full of humor, some sadness and a whole lot of love. It's moving and actually quite a gripping tale about the hard lives of East Enders and the midwife profession during that postwar time. The author realistically portrays the squalor, the pimps and prostitutes lifestyles as well as the medical side of being a midwife. There are some heart breaking stories as well as some miracles portrayed in this book that will suck you in and keep you reading. I particularly enjoyed Worth's sections about living in the Nonnatus House with the Nuns, including Sister Monica Joan a 90 year-old nun who spoke in poems and had quite a naughty side to her. Through Worth's writing we not only see how far we have come medically and in midwifery but also in our ideas and approaches to pregnancy, birth and every day living.
Penguin Book Excerpt- At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife to postwar London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies -- from the plucky, warmhearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children, to the prostitutes and dockers of the city's seedier side -- illuminate a fascinating time in history. Beautifully written and utterly moving, The Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.
I could not agree more. I only wish that Worth had given us more insight into her own life during that time and later. As it stands, The Midwife is wonderfully written, entertaining and touching through and through. I highly recommend it.
MPR Rating: Four Stars


Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

I've had this book on my "maybe" list for awhile....Might have to give it a try after the baby comes...