The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times

Jennifer Worth, Author, Terri Coates, Editor . Penguin $15 (340p) ISBN 978-0-14311-623-3

Worth gained her midwife training in the 1950s among an Anglican order of nuns dedicated to ensuring safer childbirth for the poor living amid the Docklands slums on the East End of London. Her engaging memoir retraces those early years caring for the indigent and unfortunate during the pinched postwar era in London, when health care was nearly nonexistent, antibiotics brand-new, sanitary facilities rare, contraception unreliable and families with 13 or more children the norm. Working alongside the trained nurses and midwives of St. Raymund Nonnatus (a pseudonym she’s given the place), Worth made frequent visits to the tenements that housed the dock workers and their families, often in the dead of night on her bicycle. Her well-polished anecdotes are teeming with character detail of some of the more memorable nurses she worked with, such as the six-foot-two Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, called Chummy, who renounced her genteel upbringing to become a nurse, or the dotty old Sister Monica Joan, who fancied cakes immoderately. Patients included Molly, only 19 and already trapped in poverty and degradation with several children and an abusive husband; Mrs. Conchita Warren, who was delivering her 24th baby; or the birdlike vagrant, Mrs. Jenkins, whose children were taken away from her when she entered the workhouse. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 04/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 603 pages - 978-1-4104-1853-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-101-10557-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 352 pages - 978-1-101-10562-7
Open Ebook - 978-1-101-10577-1
Show other formats
FORMATS
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X