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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 (1299 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Kathy Albuquerque, NM, United States 11-20-12
    Kathy Albuquerque, NM, United States 11-20-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is one I didn't want to put down!"

    Call the Midwife was a truly gripping book for me. I am interested in birth and so reading about how births were conducted 60 years ago was so fascinating.

    Yet, Jennifer Worth's story went far beyond that of the stories of the births she attended. It was the story of her maturing as a nurse and midwife, and of her strongly held notions about what was right and acceptable being challenged. She began her midwifery training at an Anglican convent in the dockland area of London's East End with not much more than disdain for people who were strongly motivated by love of God and called to service because of it. She grew to understand the women who mentored her, and to respect the ones whom she wrote off as just nasty or odd in the beginning. Seeing her dawning understanding of faith was lovely.


    She also learned so much from the families of the poor and down trodden of an area so different from what she knew before.

    Some of the stories she tells in this book are hilariously funny, and others are completely heartbreaking and painful to read. Worth certainly was a gifted storyteller, reminiscent of James Herriott. I hope the other books she wrote will be released on Audible soon.

    Nicola Barber is a competent narrator, and not one who will put me off a book, so I was okay at first. But, I was very surprised; she seemed to really enjoy doing this book, and the characters came alive through her excellent narration. I was very pleased!

    I don't think guys should be put of by a book about birthing babies, just as Herriott's books are more about the people than the animals. Give it a go.

    29 of 29 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-24-13
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-24-13 Member Since 2007

    mjsweet

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    "What a lovely story"
    If you could sum up Call the Midwife in three words, what would they be?

    entertaining, sweet, educational


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

    The breech birth scene was so intense and exactingly told I could not put this down. In fact the entire book went by too fast. I think people of all ages would enjoy these stories all from the 1950's East End of London


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

    all of it


    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marian H. Whitcomb 02-25-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Fantastic Book..."
    If you could sum up Call the Midwife in three words, what would they be?

    The PBS series was fascinating, the book was better.


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

    To find out one of the boys became one of Lady Di's drivers. Not only ar there wonderful stories of birth, but so much history after WW 2.


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

    It made me smile, with so many stories it told.


    Any additional comments?

    Think this book is for all.

    15 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlene Philadelphia, MS, United States 05-06-13
    Charlene Philadelphia, MS, United States 05-06-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Excellent writin performed excellently."
    What did you love best about Call the Midwife?

    I love non-fictional first hand tales like this and this writer was really good.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Sister Monica Joan made me laugh, think and want to cry.


    What about Nicola Barber’s performance did you like?

    Nicola Barber seemed to have the rare talent of a great voice and an understanding of the material that allows her to read the story with the right emphasis on the right things. Her various accents were brilliant. I would actually choose anther book on the strength of her reading it alone.


    13 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue North Bridgton, ME, United States 11-05-12
    Sue North Bridgton, ME, United States 11-05-12 Member Since 2005
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    "More coherent than the television performance"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book is an exploration of a subject that few in the U.S. have experienced; Post war poverty and living conditions and the use of midwives in home births.


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

    This is a very moving book which will touch most women. It explores the bravery of doing a job that is far out of one's comfort zone and the determination of people who have little materially to persevere and improve not only their own circumstances but also those of the people around them.


    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Chelmsford, MA, United States 12-11-13
    Beth Chelmsford, MA, United States 12-11-13 Member Since 2004
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    "1950's, London Dockyards, Family, Faith"

    I enjoyed this book far more than I expected. This is a memoir of a nurse early in her career learning to be a Midwife in the London Dockyards in the 1950's. Her observations of convent and family living conditions are vivid, and the stories are funny, sad, and sometimes downright inspirational. I looked forward to my next chance to listen from the first chapter, with the introduction to Sister Monica Jones.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer TX USA 01-21-13
    Amazon Customer TX USA 01-21-13 Member Since 2008

    Emily

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    "very interesting"

    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.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 06-01-14
    Debbie Toney, Alabama 06-01-14 Member Since 2009

    Retired CFO, Army wife, Mom of five, Grandma of six, two sons who served in combat, love to read books that reflect my values and faith, love mysteries, historical, military stories, and books that don't waste my time . . . if it doesn't have an ending that was worth the wait, I'm not a happy camper.

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    "True Story of Exact Era I Was Born In"

    I'm a child of the '50s, but here in the US, not in London, post WWII, a time of great uncertainty for many people. I'm usually drawn to historical fiction, but this audio book with true stories of the convent and midwives who served the poor and impoverished citizens is excellent. It's funny, touching, sad, and gives us a glimpse into a profession and lifestyle that most of us would never have the opportunity to know or understand otherwise. The faith of the catholic nuns, which Jennifer at first found to be strange and meaningless, was one of the sweetest and most profound parts of the story, as Jennifer learned first hand the power of a God that heals . . . a God that HEARS. This book is not preachy, it's very understated on the subject of religion, yet very real. Midwives riding bikes through snow and storms to deliver babies, give insulin shots, care for the elderly. Nuns who are as tough as nails, and as kind as Jesus. I purposely have not yet watched the tv series. I'm ready to see it now. I'm sure it won't hold a candle to the book.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Patricia San Diego, CA, United States 06-09-13
    Patricia San Diego, CA, United States 06-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A delightful read!"

    This is a delightful book and just wonderful to listen to. It is the memoir of a midwife in London of the 1950s. It is hard to believe that before the National Health Service came into being in the late 1940s and made free healthcare available to all, maternity care for the poor was practically non-existent in Britain. But by the mid 1950s nurse midwives were bicycling around the projects of London giving prenatal (the Brits call it antenatal) care and handling home deliveries, or even hospital deliveries for complications. Each story is more delightful or amazing than the others. My only complaint is that I never wanted it to end. The author, an experienced nurse, signs up for midwife training and thinks she is being sent to a hospital but instead it is a community of nuns who lovingly care for their patients and train other nurses to become experienced midwives. Britain was still recovering from the privations of WWII and there was an immense shortage of housing. Poor families lived in incredibly crowded and primitive conditions. Many of the old condemned buildings did not have running water for each flat but were still full of families because there was nowhere to move them. Into this comes all the drama of birth and death and family and money issues and even racial issues (Britian was just beginning to get immigrants of different racial backgrounds). It is just beautifully written, beautifully narrated (the Cockney voices will haunt me) and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy Anchorage, AK, United States 12-11-12
    Wendy Anchorage, AK, United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2007
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    "One of the Best"

    I'm so glad I found this book! Maybe it's because I am a Doula! I loved it. There is one place, in the brothel that was portrayed more graphically then I would prefer. This book should be required reading. It is historical and pertains to life itself. We have SO much in this century and don't always know it. The author's voice was soothing. I disagree with the reviewer who felt she talked in exclamations. She had the voice of a storyteller. I enjoyed listening and was sorry it ended. I watched one of the series and was disappointed. The book is so rich and the video doesn't pick up the characterization, at all.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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