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Publisher's Summary

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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If you like the PBS series

you will this as well as it sort of fills out the series! So enjoy!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Nice followup to "Call The Midwife"

"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.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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A bittersweet look at the Nurses and Nuns who helped the poorest of London after WW II with medical knowledge, compassion and lo

Great book that gives more detail than the PBS show. If you enjoyed the series, you'll love the audible books. Very gritty at times but overall a tribute to true "healers" who follow their calling to help those most in need. Mostly with medical help, but with a strong dose of psychology when needed. A wonderful group of women.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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informative and heart warming

As a nurse I find this author's ability to vividly share the stories (even though tragic as they may have been) through the eyes of her patients compelling and heart warming. Wonderful and captivating, the way she has shared history through storytelling. Also, the reader's accent and voice alterations made it that much more enjoyable. I especially enjoyed her version of the Cockney dialect. Looking forward to listening to the third and final book in this series.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Tear Jerker

Would you consider the audio edition of Shadows of the Workhouse to be better than the print version?

This is a woefully sad tale that will keep you pinned to your phone. A must listen.

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

I cried... and cried, and cried.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Fantastic

Best books and television series ever! I am just sad there are only 3 books to enjoy. Narration is excellent as well!

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Not for the faint of heart..

This is the 2nd book in this series.
It is well written and well narrated. The voices of educated and cockney, old and young, are executed perfectly!
The story is generally sad, but very interesting if you like historical narratives. I did not realize how terrible it was in the London area after WWII. It took too, too long for the English society to really help the poor and the shell shocked. We can only hope to learn from the heartiness of those that survived the workhouses, and try not to let our fellow citizens suffer like that again. I know there are still many people all over the world who suffer needlessly. I can only pray that we who are able do our best to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Thank you for sharing this story. I am downloading part 3 now.

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  • jp
  • 11-15-17

riveting!

an amazing look at a time and place i never knew existed, from a first-hand observer

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grim and depressing. eye openiing

some of these conditions exist even ,now in poorly managed nursing homes. learn the grim facts

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Sad but very interesting

I️ love the PBS series and this gave greater detail. It was very sad and a harsh look at those times.