When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the direst section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood';s most vivid chronicler. Woven into the ongoing tales of her life in the East End are the true stories of the people Worth met who grew up in the dreaded workhouse, a Dickensian institution that limped on into the middle of the twentieth century.
Though these are stories of unimaginable hardship, what shines through each is the resilience of the human spirit and the strength, courage, and humor of people determined to build a future for themselves against the odds. This is an enduring work of literary nonfiction, at once a warmhearted coming-of-age story and a startling look at people's lives in the poorest section of postwar London.
©2005 Jennifer Worth (P)2014 HighBridge Company
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
"Call The Midwife" was my favorite book of last year. Although the next two books both stand alone, I would strongly suggest reading it first. Shadows of the Workhouse focuses less on the work of the midwives, rather on the experiences of older neighbors, nuns and patients who either lived in or were strongly effected by the workhouse (poorhouses). You get a vivid insight to the system that damaged families and left many who were still alive in the 1950's scarred by their experiences. I really enjoyed this book: it is tender, humorous, heartbreaking and makes history real. I do genealogy and have found several family members who lived and died in the poorhouses, so it was very personal to me. There remains a James Herriot feel to the books which consists of multiple short stories flowing together around the theme. Sister Monica Joan continues to steal the show with her antics, the book is worth the credit to see her arrested and in court for stealing jewelry. I didn't realize this is now a popular series in Britain by the BBC, you can view it on Netflix.
Some areas of these stories are graphic and heartbreaking. Mostly because they are based on true experiences from a poverty stricken place and time. I loved the writing and narration, even through the difficult times. You will also experience the fortitude of those faced with unbelievable poverty and unique circumstances. Great series of books and love the show.
Enlightening and well read the story takes you back to a recent time in history and opens the doors on dark and difficult days shining a beautiful light into the lives of people and their experiences. Very interesting and it transports you to the past as if we're happening right now.
Narrator was lovely as usual.
This collections of stories was heart-retching. Tears are a possibility. Certainly provides a new perspective on history & London culture.
yes. It is a deep look at an institutional setting that is rarely, if ever, acknowledged in history. It is the continuation of stories from characters in Worth's first biography, Call The Midwife. While much less personal than CTM, it is still a compelling, if difficult (in parts), read.
There wer emany, but I would have to say Jane's courtship. How beautiful that love can and does infuse someone with such confidence.
She did a wonderful job! My main quibble with CTM was with her narration (occasionally whiny and whispery). There were certain portions of that here, but those were moments where nicola Barber was depicting fear or sadness - very appropriate times for such expression. Her accents were beautifully done as well. Perhaps having several years' more experience under her belt made this a much better listen than it would have been when CTM was released.
Yes! The stories are continuations, 1-3 hours each, but interwoven with Worth's own journey. You can pick them up and put them down as you wish, but the book was so compelling I just wanted to keep reading!
Don't let the narrator reviews from Call the Midwife discourage you! Nicola Barber is a talenter narrator, and she pulled out all the stops in this second biography in the trilogy.
World traveler, free sprite, lover of art, drinker of wine, giver of goodwill, design obsessed, strange, wife and loving mother of two cats.
This is a woefully sad tale that will keep you pinned to your phone. A must listen.
I cried... and cried, and cried.
I have two rescue dogs. One Scottish born husband. And a love of books that goes back to childhood and bookmobiles!
I have so enjoyed the PBS series that when I saw the book's offering, I had to use one of my credits! And THEN I had to stop listening in the middle of a book to listen to Call The Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse. Neither the writing nor the narrator disappointed! If I'd never watched the series, I think I'd still be able to conjure up this area of London, it's inhabitants, and the time; that's how well Jennifer Worth writes. Nicola Barber's reading only enhances Ms. Worth's story.
Until midwife Jennifer's telling, I thought the Workhouse (poorhouse) and its effects on people of my parents generation was impossible. The truth is validated via her interactions with others. As the chronicles are three dimensional, I experienced several emotions. That's what a good "slice of life" story does.
As engaging as the first book in her memoir series, though incredibly sad and sometimes very difficult to listen to. Learning more about the inhumanity of the workhouse gives a new perspective to our modern day institutions and beliefs about poverty. Despite the incredible challenges faced by those in the workhouse and those living in the East End in the decades afterwards, I was surprised again and again at the strength, resilience and ability to find happiness and joy displayed by the people who suffered most. What a great lesson to us all.
I just retired from my teaching career with Special Need High school. Now I'm concentrating on my 9 grandkids (my hubby continues to work).
There is very little written about the work houses in London circa the 20th century up to 1950s. The author brings these places to life with the real stories that she was able to glean from the people who had lived through these times.
I can't say I enjoyed this second book in the series as much as the first, but it does show the triumph of the human spirit in deplorable circumstances
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