Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Call the Midwife

“Why did I ever start this? I must have been mad! There were dozens of other things I could have been—a model, air hostess, or a ship’s stewardess. The ideas run through my head, all glamorous, highly paid jobs. Only an idiot would choose to be a nurse. And now a midwife. . .”  Thus begins Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth, now available at the Library.  You may already be familiar with the acclaimed BBC drama based on Worth’s remembrances.  (The series, distributed by PBS, is now in its second season on WFYI; the Library has Season 1.)  If not, you’re in for a treat. Worth writes about life in London's working-class East End in the 1950s when midwives--not obstetricians--delivered babies at home with little fuss and even less anesthesia. The memoir opens with Worth's arrival at Nonnatus House, a training center for midwives. Worth (played by Jessica Raine in the series) is fresh out of nursing school, and it is through her eager, inexperienced eyes, that we come to know the compassionate and sometimes quirky nuns, as well as their memorable patients. Chapter by chapter, we follow Jenny as she pedals on her rounds, ultimately coming to appreciate not only her personal achievements, but the heroic efforts of this entire band of dedicated nurses. So, if you're in the mood for a compelling drama with plenty of heart, Call the Midwife is just what the doctor ordered.

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