This book is the genesis of the popular NetFlix series of the same name, and I am admitted latecomer and fan of both. I watched the series over the past few months, and was curious to read the book. It was incredible how accurately the producers of the series brought many of the scenes, and characters, in the book to life. I’m sure I would have felt the same way if I had read the book first. As a young woman Jennifer Worth worked as a midwife in London, in the 1950s and 1960s. She relates with great detail stories of the people she served, as well as the incredible women with whom she worked. Midwives provided in-home care for mothers and babies to some of the poorest people in London with professionalism and deep compassion. The neighbourhood in which they worked had suffered bombing during the war, and were in a state of transition, as well as a baby boom. The midwifery practice with which Worth worked was run by an order of nuns. Their fictional home base, Nonnatus House, was strict in some ways, but also extremely warm and welcoming, providing shelter to many people in great need. The nuns were all strong, independent, loving women, each with their own personal challenges and journeys. Sister Monica Joan is one of my favourites. She was a retired midwife living at Nonnatus House, and struggling with dementia. In spite of this, she provides deeply relevant advice, commentary, and quotes from literature to her Sisters, the midwives, and visitors. This is a book that takes you back in time, and provides a social history lesson.
Joanna Aegard – http://www.tbpl.ca