Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth - DISCUSSION
Thank you for joining me in this book discussion. I was prompted to read it after watching the PBS TV series. My hairdresser actually recommended it as good, and she should know because so many of her clients had talked about it. :) I also recalled Kathy t saying it was one of those rare book club reads, when everyone enjoyed the book.
It is a memoir, rather appropriate after the lengthy thread we have going on that subject. This was handwritten by the author when she was in her sixties "in response to an article in the"Royal College of Midwives Journal by Terri Coates regarding the underrepresentation of midwives in literature. Coates urged, "a midwife somewhere to do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets." Worth took up the challenge and eventually sent her first volume to Coates to read. She writes, "Whoever heard of a midwife as a literary heroine? Yet midwifery is the very stuff of drama. Every child is conceived either in love or lust, is born in pain, followed by joy or sometimes remorse. A midwife is in the thick of it, she sees it all. Why then does she remain a shadowy figure, hidden behind the delivery room door?"
I thought it would be best at first for me to give some background on Jennifer. She was born in 1935 and died from cancer of the esophagus in 2011.The following is taken from her obituary in http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jul/06/jennifer-worth-obituary
After her retirement from nursing, with the East End she had known long gone, she decided to put her reminiscences down in writing, so as to preserve the old ways of life, the people and the poverty. "So many of those great characters have stayed with me," she said on the publication of Call the Midwife. "Most people in London at that time didn't know the East End - they pushed it aside. There was no law, no lighting, bedbugs and fleas. It was a hidden place, not written about at all." Filming is about to begin on a BBC television series based on Jennifer's books, scripted by Heidi Thomas, which is due for broadcast in 2012.
Born Jennifer Lee in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (while her parents were on holiday), she grew up in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, left Belle Vue school aged 14 and became secretary to the head of Dr Challoner's grammar school. However, she found that this was not sufficiently expressive of her temperament, so decided to become a nurse instead. She trained at the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading, then moved to London for further training as a midwife.
In the early 1950s she became a staff nurse at the London hospital in Whitechapel, east London. There she lived with an Anglican community of nuns, the Sisters of St John the Divine, who worked among the poor and who inspired her lifelong dedication to the Christian faith.
Her subsequent nursing jobs were at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson hospital in Bloomsbury, and finally at the Marie Curie hospital in Hampstead. Jennifer married Philip Worth in 1963 and their two daughters,...