Title – Call the Midwife
Author – Jennifer Worth
2002 – Nonfiction – Memoir
The Premise: If you’ve ever seen the PBS series Call the Midwife, I want to make you aware that this is the book on which the show was based. In her training to be a nurse, young Jenny Lee ends up at Nonnatus House, a convent in London. The Sisters are all trained nurses and midwives, making morning and evening rounds to see patients and make sure all is well. Although not a nun, Jenny Lee lives and works with the Sisters. These are the stories of her patients, the cheerful, resilient Londoners surviving and thriving in the 1950s.
The Opening Line: Nonnatus House was situated in the heart of the London Docklands.
What I Loved: Worth writes with an open, honest, simple style, telling the stories of the people and places she encountered while training to become a nurse. She isn’t trying to be poetic or fancy, which I appreciate because her style makes the stories resound more. She doesn’t try to embellish or add drama where none is needed. She also writes with humor and cheer, modeling the lives of the patients she saw on a daily basis. Even in her bleakest descriptions, a type of hope shines through.
What I Didn’t Love: Sometimes there would be two or three chapters straight on a single patient, but then Worth moved on to another patient in the next chapter without really finishing the story. Occasionally she would return to that patient, but once or twice there was just no more, and I really wanted closure on that patient’s story.
Final Thoughts: My roommate is obsessed with the show, so I’ve caught a couple episodes kind of unintentionally. This memoir makes me want to go marathon the entire series RIGHT NOW. From what I know of the show, it stays pretty true to the material in the book. Luckily, my new obsession can be sated pretty easily – I can Netflix the show, plus Worth wrote two more memoirs of her experiences, making this into a nice trilogy. Need I say more? This is a book you should have on your radar, especially if you love the show.