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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Farewell to the East End: The Last Days of the East End Midwives - Jennifer Worth In this last installment in Worth's midwife trilogy, she reverts to the short story style of the first book. Her writing is simple and her essays on historical topics are basic, but the people she encountered in the course of her work are amazing and well worth reading about. The type of community that Worth writes about has disappeared with modern technology and government programs, but it should not be forgotten.

We are reminded how tuberculosis, nonexistent birth control, and lack of sufficient housing had drastic effects on people's lives not that long ago, though we rarely have to think about these things today.

Some of the stories in this book are more moving than others. I cried in public when I read about the abused and downtrodden Mrs. Lacey and got goosebumps from Julia's conclusion. I was less drawn in by Meg & Mave, Hilda, and Sister Monica Joan's love for taxis. In the end, Worth gives us a glimpse of what happened to some of the people we have grown to love at the end of this book. It was somewhat jarring to suddenly place these people in modern times but I did feel as though I, along with the author, was saying farewell to East End.

Once again, Worth includes detailed scenes and conversations that she could not have witnessed, making portions of this book read more like historical fiction than a non-fiction memoir, but the stories are fascinating nonetheless. What an amazing life she led in the service of others!