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Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

Historical Novel Society

Currently reading

It Can't Happen Here
Sinclair Lewis, Michael Meyer
The Courier's Tale
Peter Walker
Paul Bannister
The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America
Richard John Neuhaus
A Year with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Carla Barnhill, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Wallis
A True Story of the East End in the 1950s, Call the Midwife - Jennifer Worth I read this book for a summer book club and had never heard of it or the show by the same name. I have not read much of London's post-war history despite the fact that my grandparents were living there at this time and at the very end of the 1950s my mother was born there. Worth's memoir took me into the world of my family's past and was a very enjoyable read.

Worth's writing style is nothing amazing, not that I found any particular fault with it either. What really takes the reader in is her stories, which would seem outrageous if this weren't nonfiction. Once again, truth is more fascinating than any fictional story written, and this woman has lived through an astounding amount of worthwhile tales. The book is written more as a series of short stories that relate the drama of various people the author encountered during her years as a midwife in the 1950s. Though I am not usually a fan of short stories, these characters - no people, they were real people! - tugged at my heartstrings and made me want to learn more about them.

How could anyone read about Mrs. Jenkins, Mary, or Conchita Warren and ever look at life quite the same way? Reading about the tenements and workhouses made me wish that everyone plying the government for more handouts would be forced to read a history of what the government has done for people in the past before lodging any complaint. It reminded me of my grandfather's answer when I asked him why he decided to move to the US from England (about 1970): "It was just so bad."

Anyone interested in a realistic, emotional trip to 1950's East End should read this book.