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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 (2299 )
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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.

    35 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-24-13
    Mary Jane Sweet Texas 03-24-13 Member Since 2011

    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


    18 of 19 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marian H. Whitcomb 02-25-13 Member Since 2011
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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.

    17 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Chelmsford, MA, United States 12-11-13
    Beth Chelmsford, MA, United States 12-11-13 Member Since 2006
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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.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan 06-12-13
    Jan 06-12-13 Member Since 2011

    Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.

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    "My favorite this year... but not for all..."

    Slices of life as experienced by a young midwife in postwar London slums. Similar to James Herriot books, with feel of Potato Peel Pie Literary Society. However, "real life" is shared and it isn't always pretty. It includes several step by step delivery of babies, the story of how a young girl is drawn into prostitution, ups and downs of married life and child raising, a few babies born with "unexpected" color, some heartbreaking abuse, poverty, adoption and horrors of poor house relief. The only portion which is lewd is during the "entertainment" at the brothel, you know it is coming and a 3 minute fast forward would remove it easily without messing with the plot. Language is clean and although some of the experiences are heartbreaking the whole feeling of the book is the beauty of the cycle of life - aptly named birth, joy and hard times. You will smile a lot!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charlene Philadelphia, MS, United States 05-06-13
    Charlene Philadelphia, MS, United States 05-06-13
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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.


    15 of 17 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy 12-11-12
    Wendy 12-11-12 Member Since 2014
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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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue 11-05-12
    Sue 11-05-12 Member Since 2012
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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 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 04-26-14
    Laurie Florence, KY, United States 04-26-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Don't call it much"

    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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard 06-12-13
    Richard 06-12-13
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    "The best book I've listened to this year"

    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.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
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