So far this year, I've listened to about 50 books, and this has been the best of them. I don't read much non-fiction, I'm a guy, I'm an American, and I don't have any children, so a book of memoirs from a midwife in 1950's London shouldn't logically resonate with me at all. I can't explain it, but I thought this book was wonderful.
I read a few other reviews that disliked the narrator, but I thought she did a great job. She subtly captures different voices without making it into a big deal. The recording mix was a little strange, though, so if you have headphones that really accentuate bass tones, you might have a little trouble with the sound.
The book is a series of stories about different people that the author interacts with during her time studying nursing at a convent in London. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, most of them incorporate interesting historical points about women's health, and all of them are amazing.
I wish I was a better reviewer so I could give a better picture of how great this book is. I'd feel a little silly just writing "this book is awesome" until I hit Audible's character limit, but that would about sum it up.
Yes, specifically those that liked The Birth House.
I liked her portrayal of Sister Monica Joan.
There were times I was misty, I'm trying to conceive and there are all these mothers having children in hard conditions...
I really liked the glimpse into a time period and culture I was not familiar with. The characters are interesting-- although sometimes it is sad. Mostly I was so interested in the work of a midwife. I will listen to it again. I admire the author of this book-- for telling of short cases, yet making the stories hold together-- but mostly for the work she did as a midwife. The PBS series was well done, but as always a book is more satisfying.
I liked the history about the Dockland area of London in the mid-20th century and how the people lived. It did much to bring the area and its people to life. I did not like the narrator.
Sister Monica Joan was great fun and had the most depth of character.
Oy. Ms. Barber clearly has a good range of voices, so her decision - and the director's decision to allow her- to read the main character in the tiny, near-whisper, sometimes whiny, nasally voice is beyond my understanding. It was extremely distracting as the voice would get so soft I'd have to turn up the volume and so nasally and whispery that I'd have to strain to hear. And then, suddenly, she'd do a different louder voice, and I'm backing down the volume in exasperation. By the time the book was ending (and the last chapter was, without question, the most annoying of all) I was so distracted by the affectation that I could barely concentrate on the story.
It was OK, but could have been SO much better!
Listen carefully to the sample before you buy it and realize that, for much of the story, she modulates this voice down to even more of a nasal whisper. .
Back in 1961, FCC Chairman Newton Minnow called television a "vast wasteland" -- and he was right, back then. Today, television is in a magnificent resurgence, with exceptional programming like BBC's "The Street", PBS's "Sherlock", and best of all, BBC's
"Call the Midwife", which I first encountered via Netflix. Seeing that first episode, I was entranced -- and spent the next several evenings watching every episode available. Amazing, the acting, the stories, the history, the clear but soft presentation of moral issues -- no preaching -- not to mention the insights into life in London's East End in the 1950's -- not that long ago, in the scheme of things.
So it was with some trepidation that I bought the audio book -- which was the exact reverse of a situation for me. Normally I read the book, and then am reluctant to see the film because it's almost never as good. In this case, I'd seen several seasons of the astonishingly good television series, and found myself wondering if the actual book could be anywhere near as fine.
It was. And then some -- in fact, the TV series follows Jennifer Worth's written memoirs very carefully, at least in the situations and scenes presented. The TV producers added a little more love interest than was in the memoirs -- for several of the young women, not just Jenny -- but otherwise it's all there, the Sisters, with their various eccentricities, Jenny, with all her sincerity, Fred the handyman with all his schemes, and of course "Chummy" -- well, how would anyone describe Chummy? But the book character is very similar to that played by the enormously talented Miranda Hart. I find myself smiling whenever she appears -- whether in the book or in the films.
There are a few more historical details in the book than in the series, which I found fascinating. Again, 1950 wasn't all that long ago, but it continued to amaze me that so many medical advancements we take for granted now weren't available then.
The audio book is greatly enhanced by the perfect narration by Nicola Barber. Her very soft voice, perfect enunciation, is absolutely the right choice for this memoir. Well done!
All in all, highest recommendation possible for this audio book -- and for the BBC series!
While I was interested in the historical aspects of the book, overall I found it to be a bit slow. The narrator sounds as if she is reading a Christmas story to a 5 year old - you can almost see her eyes getting big as she anxiously reads some of the EXCITING parts - well, you get the idea. I was glad when I finished.
Probably. Nicola Barber did a commendable job with this book. Some reviewers do have complaints regarding the low whispering tone she takes sometimes, and I found it a little annoying at first, but the short stories in the book were so compelling that I was able to look past the minor annoyance.
Conchita, jennifer (of course), and Chummy.
The birth of a baby during Christmas dinner; a tortoise appearing from under the bed! I laughed out loud!
yes, the births of Conchita Warren's children. I hope to hear more from this family in subsequent books.
This book is a wonderful addition to any library. While it primarily addresses women's issues, it details the way life was lived in the 1950s, contrasted with life today... certain things just surprised me about the advances in medical science, and how sometimes human intuition can be as or more beneficial than the most scientific of medical care.
I am thrilled that the other two books in this trilogy are FINALLY available on Audible; I will be reading them shortly!
I tend to shy away from books with women readers (even though I am a 70 year old female) only because most don't seem to have the versatility as the best of the male readers. That was before I listened to this book read by Nicola Barber. That is not to take anything away from the author because even the best reader cannot salvage a poorly written book. I am pushing my husband to listen to a book about a midwife! There can be no higher recommendation.
Having never read the print version I can't say.
I would absolutely recommend buying this audiobook. It's charming, well written and will give you an appreciation for modern medicine. I found it quite interesting.
Such a great listen! wish so bad they had the next books in the series. It is interesting to hear the historical parts, and heart wrenching to hear the sad parts, and all balanced with a spattering of really beautiful parts.
Soothing voice that really reads well with the style of writing, and most notably, the appropriate accents.
They already did! And its probably my favorite series ever filmed, which I don't say lightly.
Listen to it! Read it, watch it. Its absolutely lovely.