Thursday, May 29, 2014

Call the Midwife

Midwifery is an interesting profession. Women placed at pivotal times in a person's life to help bring new life into the world. It's an ancient practice that has endured until recently in the United States. There are pockets of resurgence, though physician groups have fought it insisting on oversight, licensing, and certified training. Those things are not wrong, but it is ironic considering midwives trained doctors on how to deliver a baby.

The UK has a strong tradition of midwifery. They still provide the primary care for pregnant women today. This is probably one of the most striking differences between our two countries - this attitude about who can safely deliver a baby. Jennifer Worth, a nurse midwife, wrote a memoir detailing her experiences working in the slums of London's East End among some of the country's poorest in the 1950s. The stories are funny, gripping, raw, real, and hard. She describes people who have made some very bad (even immoral) choices in such a sympathetic way that you can't help but feel empathy for them. She tackles topics such as racism, abortion, prostitution, poverty, elder care, rape, incest, workhouses, and the changing situation of London.

I really enjoyed reading these books. It helped me better understand what World War II had done to London and how hard life was for so many. The books have been published with new covers in three volumes.

The BBC has recently adapted these stories into a television show. The show has taken a softer approach to some of the stories of the book. Some of the stories in the books would rightfully be rated R whereas the television show would be PG or PG-13. The first two seasons cover most of the stories in the three books. I'm not sure on the third season as I have not seen it yet, but the producers have started creating additional material. The characters have all been cast with exactly the right actors that have done a great job capturing what Jennifer Worth described.

Book Rating: 5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

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