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Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times | [Jennifer Worth]

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

At the age of 22, Jennifer Worth left her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she met while delivering babies all over London - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lived to the woman with 24 children who couldn't speak English to the prostitutes and dockers of the city’s seedier side - illuminate a fascinating time in history.
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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Nominee, Solo Narration - Female, 2013

At the age of 22, Jennifer Worth left her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in postwar London’s East End slums. The colorful characters she met while delivering babies all over London - from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lived to the woman with 24 children who couldn'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, Call the Midwife will touch the hearts of anyone who is, and everyone who has, a mother.

©2002 Jennifer Worth (P)2012 HighBridge Company

What the Critics Say

"A charming tale of deliveries and deliverance." (Kirkus Reviews)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (1172 )
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Performance
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  •  
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 05-30-14
    JoAnn Boston, MA, United States 05-30-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Light and quippy, but not profound enough"

    This was a fun little read; however, I felt as though it was all accomplished with a kind of surface-y air... the reader becomes entrenched in the slums of England, but it appeared that Ms. Worth maintained her English sensibilities and didn't want to see "too depressing" so all anecdotes seemed to end up with a silly anecdote or Hollywood ending, apparently in an attempt to encourage the reader to "hang in there ole' chap."

    I would have preferred to really be immersed in the culture- to not have a Mary Poppins view of this time and place (a tidy bed and midwife can soothe even the most depraved environment?), but rather understand that some days must have been demoralizing and disheartening.

    Additionally, as a "memoir," Ms. Worth alluded to lost love, a scandalous past, and the crazy route that brought her to midwifery- however, the reader was only teased with these, and forced to "take her word for it." I would have gotten more for this read if I had a better understanding of what path her life had taken to leave her with such a sunny disposition in trying circumstances.

    The reader did a GREAT job. I have not watched the PBS show of this novel, though could see the characters come to live thanks to Ms. Barbar's narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Burrows Walla Walla, WA, United States 05-21-14
    S. Burrows Walla Walla, WA, United States 05-21-14 Member Since 2011

    Namaste

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    "Didn't like it nearly as much as I expected to."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    It probably wasn't the book's fault, but I realized after beginning that I didn't care nearly as much about repeated descriptions of childbirth as I expected to.


    Would you recommend Call the Midwife to your friends? Why or why not?

    Probably not.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The narration was good; I'd like to listen to this narrator read a different book.


    Did Call the Midwife inspire you to do anything?

    Not have any more kids!


    Any additional comments?

    If this period in history is really interesting to you, or childbirth an interesting topic, you'll probably like it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Mcferran Corydon, IN 05-21-14
    J. Mcferran Corydon, IN 05-21-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Birth, Awakening, Life and Renewal"
    What did you love best about Call the Midwife?

    I don't normally choose this kind of book to listen to, but I am so glad I took a chance on this book. I really enjoyed so many aspects of it. When I was a young girl, I read through all the James Harriot books and Call the Midwife was very reminiscent of those. The novel is a series of vignettes about some of the very interesting people that this midwife encounters in the course of her duties. Each story provides insight into the hardship, brutality, humanity, strength and joy that were among the many aspects of life in London's East end in the middle of the last century. Together, the stories also illustrate the progressive maturity and understanding that the midwife gains as she lives among the sisters, other nurses and the various families she works with. Some of the stories are heart wrenching, some amusing, some heartwarming - and some a bit of each. I found them all to be engaging. This was an easy book to listen to, but still managed to have depth and soul.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I particularly like the character development in the stories - I felt the author really conveyed a full picture of many of the characters. I also liked that she, more than once, told a story of misjudgment. It is so easy for all of us to judge people, and usually harshly or unfairly, just as she does. As she learns more about the life stories of the people she sometimes so hastily judges, she comes to understand and love them.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Like the seasons, I enjoyed each one, and was glad for all of them! I appreciated the way the author interwove humorous, light stories, like the boys coming to tea at the convent or Chummy learning to ride a bike, with the darker, and more serious stories dealing with the themes of separation, violence, unthinkable poverty and social constriction.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Several - some in the most wrenching way, as in the stories of Mrs. Jenkins and the story of Mary. But the story I cried over was Conchita's - I found that story to be so touching and miraculous.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. J. Kahn Northern New Jersey 05-17-14
    J. J. Kahn Northern New Jersey 05-17-14 Member Since 2008
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    "SO much better than the TV series!"
    What made the experience of listening to Call the Midwife the most enjoyable?

    The stories of the young midwife's adventures and the narration were both excellent.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Call the Midwife?

    The discovery of why the ordinary people loved the gruff midwife who always gave the midwives-in-training and the upper-class nuns such a hard time.


    What does Nicola Barber bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Her English accent!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made my terribly sad and I did laugh, too!


    Any additional comments?

    The historical bits about the development in England were fascinating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Casey United States 05-16-14
    Casey United States 05-16-14
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    "Amazing Performance by Nicola Barber"

    Call the Midwife is a collection of memories and stories of Jennifer Worth's experience as a midwife in 1950's London. The characters are delightful and approachable. The author does an amazing job of capturing the essence of the docks and the characters that inhabited them.

    Nicola Barber is perhaps the most talented narrator I have heard on an audio book. Her voices and accents are spot on ranging from high English to Cockney to Irish to Spanish and more. This book was delightful to listen to and gave great insight into the history of midwifery and the way that London used to be.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherry McNee Grand Rapids, MI 05-15-14
    Sherry McNee Grand Rapids, MI 05-15-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Lulling whisper but engrossing story"
    If you could sum up Call the Midwife in three words, what would they be?

    Historical, and personable the narrative is wonderfully informative in an entertaining way. Not a story as much as a collection of remembrances.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The description of life in England in the 1950's with the history of the buildings and the way of life


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    she whispers when she narrates. Actual stories and character voices are great, but the voice that ties them together is the one I use reading a good night story to make a toddler drift off.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    it would be a lousy film, no action all history


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexandra 05-13-14
    Alexandra 05-13-14 Member Since 2004
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    "Better than the Television Series"
    Where does Call the Midwife rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is an excellent book, with a strong and capable narrator in Nicola Barber. I am a big fan of the BBC series and was not expecting the book to be as good. In fact, I enjoyed the book even more. Stories that were quickly touched on in the series are given greater detail. You get a much stronger sense of the neighborhood and times in the East End of London, and how difficult it was for the families living in that area during that period of time.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Call the Midwife?

    I greatly enjoyed hearing the detail of Sister Monica Joan's life.


    Any additional comments?

    Nicola Barber does an excellent job of narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Oneida,, IL, United States 05-10-14
    Jean Oneida,, IL, United States 05-10-14 Member Since 2005
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    "Very compelling"

    Choosing this book was not my usual "type" of read, but it was very enjoyable. The setting, London in the 1950's, was beautifully portrayed, and the narrator, Nicola Barber, did an excellent job of helping you see and feel the conditions under which the main character had to work. I'm assuming there is a sequel(s), and I will definitely look for it/them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori Cleveland 05-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Fabulous listen"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Call the Midwife to be better than the print version?

    I cannot compare the print version, but I was riveted by the narration and story content.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Call the Midwife?

    Many of the chapters had me on the edge of my seat to see what would happen.


    What about Nicola Barber’s performance did you like?

    AMAZING!! Truly one of the best narrations I have listened to. She deserves an award for her ability to bring the story to life. Nicola did a great job with the accents and portraying the different characters.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did not want this book to end. I could listen to the individual stories again and again.


    Any additional comments?

    A wonderful book. If you are a fan of the the television show, you will find this book a wonderful listen. Highly recommended!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. C. Terry Folsom, Ca 05-09-14
    J. C. Terry Folsom, Ca 05-09-14 Member Since 2012

    crazycatlady

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    "Great except"

    It's a good book with a wonderful narration. But it has some preachy religious undertones that threw me off .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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