Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

4.17 avg rating
( 35,779 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780143123255: Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

An unforgettable story of the joy of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the hope of one extraordinary woman

At the age of twenty-two, Jennifer Worth leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in post war London's East End slums. The colorful characters she meets while delivering babies all over London-from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives to the woman with twenty-four children who can't speak English 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.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Worth's books are full of fascinating social history: about living conditions in east London, the scale of poverty and violence, the realities of postwar medicine and the workhouse ( NEW STATESMAN)

From the Author:

Comedy and tragedy are the faces of the double mask of the ‘Commedia dell’Arte’. This is the Theatre of Life where the writer must start. Writers with no experience of life have nothing to say. The writer must dwell in the thick of human life and get the hands dirty. Truth is always richer and stranger than fiction.
What is more central to life than birth? A midwife is always present, yet a midwife’s role has never before been documented. I was a district midwife fifty years ago, going around the slums of the London Docklands on a bicycle.
The docks were fully operational and employed most of the men. The bug- infested tenements (those that were still standing after the Blitz) housed tens of thousands of people, and overcrowding was chronic. There was no Pill, and families were large, sometimes huge. None of the flats or houses had a telephone. Few of them had running water or even a lavatory. Babies were born by gaslight, lamplight, or the meter ran out in the middle of labour.
The setting is rich material for the Commedia dell’Arte tradition. The fever-ridden slums of Naples or the dark, sinister canals of mediaeval Venice could not be more redolent of atmosphere for drama and melodrama. Yet time and place alone are of limited interest. There can be no comedy or tragedy without people.
The Cockneys are the people I write about. I knew and loved them. I entered their crowded homes at the most intimate times of life – the birth of new babies. I saw their strengths and weaknesses, their open-heartedness and narrow prejudices, their humour and courage, their irresistible passion for enjoyment.
The book is teeming with unforgettable characters: Conchita and Len who produced twenty-five babies between them, the last one born prematurely in a London smog; Brenda who had rickets; Lilly who had syphilis; Molly, beaten up and on the game a fortnight after delivery; a breach delivery on Christmas day; Margaret, who died of eclampsia; Mary, a fourteen year-old Irish girl dragged into the seamy brothels of Cable Street (I am told that the strip show in a brothel is amongst my most powerful writing!); Fred, the boiler man at the Convent; and Mrs. Jenkins, who had spent eighteen years in the workhouse. And how does a white man deal with his wife (also white) after the birth of a half-black baby? How would any man react today? There are three such stories in Call the Midwife. We are not talking about an IVF error. This is not racism. This is adultery. This is the Commedia dell’Arte.
I have mentioned a convent. I worked with an order of nuns, heroic nuns who had been nursing in the slums of London since the 1870s, when no-one would go into those areas, except the police. The nuns are central to the book. They are saintly and wise, worldly and witty, sometimes infuriating, often eccentric. Sister Monica Joan’s verbal battles with Sister Evangelina are among the funniest things in the book, I am told.
The book is social history in story form. It is not a dull chronicle of events. It is about the living, breathing, suffering, laughing people whose lives were shaped by the docklands in which they lived fifty years ago.
As we grow older the days of our youth are illuminated by a golden glow that seems to grow ever brighter as the years pass. My memories of midwifery in Poplar approach high romance: the great cargo boats coming and going ceaselessly, with thousands of men entering the dock gates, loading and unloading; the pilots guiding a great white vessel as big as an iceberg through a narrow canal to her resting wharf; the constant deep-throated growls of the ships’ funnels and the shrill of the sirens. I recall the open-hearted friendliness of the people who lived cheerfully in grim conditions, who never locked their doors and who kept open house to just about everyone. I remember cycling home in the grey light of dawn when the docks were beginning to stir, my body tired after eighteen hours work, but my mind alight with the thrill of having achieved the safe delivery of a beautiful baby to a joyous mother

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Books (2012)
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback Quantity Available: 9
Seller
TotnesBooks
(Totnes, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. DIFFERENT COVERS - UK COVERS - BRAND NEW COPIES - DIFFERENT COVERS - UK COVERS - BRAND NEW COPIES - BRAND NEW COPY - PLEASE SEE OUR OTHER TITLES BY THIS AUTHOR - TRUSTED DEVON (UK) BASED SELLER - IN STOCK -. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000466137

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 1.75
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: £ 2.75
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Worth, Jennifer
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
BWB
(Valley Stream, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97801431232550000000

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 8.50
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Putnam Inc
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback / softback Quantity Available: 6
Seller
THE SAINT BOOKSTORE
(Southport, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc. Paperback / softback. Book Condition: new. BRAND NEW, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times, Jennifer Worth. Bookseller Inventory # B9780143123255

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 7.43
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: £ 2.75
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

4.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Putnam Inc, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint, Media Tie In. 198 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London s East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can t speak English, to the prostitutes of the city s seedier side. Based on Jennifer Worth s bestselling memoirs, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143123255

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 10.40
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

5.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Putnam Inc, United States (2012)
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback Quantity Available: 10
Seller
The Book Depository US
(London, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint, Media Tie In. 198 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. The highest-rated drama in BBC history, Call the Midwife will delight fans of Downton Abbey Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London s East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can t speak English, to the prostitutes of the city s seedier side. Based on Jennifer Worth s bestselling memoirs, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780143123255

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 10.68
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

6.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Group USA
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Quantity Available: 5
Seller
Blackwell's
(Oxford, OX, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Group USA. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 9780143123255

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 11.47
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

7.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Books
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New PAPERBACK Quantity Available: > 20
Seller
GIANTBOOKSALE
(HAUPPAUGE, NY, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0143123254 Great book !! Established seller with great ratings! A+ Customer Service! Orders ship from the USA!. Bookseller Inventory # Z0143123254ZN

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 1.66
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: £ 10.12
From U.S.A. to United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

8.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Books 2012-08-29 (2012)
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Quantity Available: 5
Seller
Chiron Media
(Wallingford, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books 2012-08-29, 2012. Book Condition: New. Brand new book, sourced directly from publisher. Dispatched within 2 working days from our warehouse. Book will be sent in robust, secure packaging to ensure it reaches you securely. Bookseller Inventory # NU-BNT-01085318

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 10.95
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: £ 2.49
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

9.

Worth, Jennifer
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback Quantity Available: 1
Seller
CitiRetail
(Lowfield Heath, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 133mm x 19mm x 208mm. Paperback. Jennifer Worth was just twenty-two when she volunteered to spend her early years of midwifery training in London's East End in the 1950s. Coming from a sheltered background there were tough les.Shipping may be from our UK, US or Australian warehouse depending on stock availability. 340 pages. 0.335. Bookseller Inventory # 9780143123255

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 16.02
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

10.

Worth, Jennifer
Published by Penguin Books (2012)
ISBN 10: 0143123254 ISBN 13: 9780143123255
New Paperback Quantity Available: 2
Seller
Revaluation Books
(Exeter, United Kingdom)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Penguin Books, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. rep mti edition. 352 pages. 8.00x5.25x1.00 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # z-0143123254

More Information About This Seller | Ask Bookseller a Question

Buy New
£ 13.87
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: £ 2.75
Within United Kingdom
Destination, Rates & Speeds

There are more copies of this book

View all search results for this book