The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

I became aware of this book when I was searching on Amazon.co.uk for a different title. By the way this is a great way to find titles that aren’t available in the States, but I digress…

Anyway, during my search I decided to look at some of their bestseller lists.  A trio of books by Jennifer Worth were near the top of the memoir/bio category and their synopses intrigued me. I hurriedly flipped over to my public library’s website to see by some chance if we might have a copy of one of them. Low and behold the first book in the series, The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times was available!  Yippee!  I love when a book I want to read is available for free at my local library. Aren’t libraries wonderful?…again I digress..

I must admit that when I first started the book, I kind of read a bit and then put it aside to read something else, mostly because I’m a squeamish sort and the opening chapter about a woman giving birth kind of put me off.  I’ve been there done that, I don’t really need to read about it in all it’s graphic glory! But then it came down to the fact that I had just this one library book at home left to read before my Alaska Adventure so I plowed on and I’m glad I did.

The more I read this book the more it put me in mind of James Herriot‘s vet series, except with humans instead of animals. That sounds awful, doesn’t it?! But it’s the truth. I guess maybe it was Ms. Worth’s weaving of anecdotes about her mid-wife profession and the colorful characters she met throughout her career. That is why I loved all of James Herriot’s books after all. It’s kind of like sitting around the kitchen table listening to my aunts’ telling tales out of school and gossiping unabashedly, do you know what I mean?  You can’t help but listen and feel part of the setting.

The story does well to mix the good, the bad and the ugly (sorry for stealing the movie title!) while injecting just enough levity in to the mix. Her descriptions of 1950’s London are very vivid and capture a snapshot of a specific time and place that might otherwise be forgotten. After all how many people want to wax nostalgic on living poor in horrid conditions?

I see that the BBC recently premiered a TV series based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs. I hope that eventually the series will wash up on American soil  either on BBC America or DVD, like so many other great British series.
I would love to see this book serialized!

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