Summary- Jennifer is a trained nurse who goes to work in post war London. There she learns many lessons about life, poverty, and history.
I have been devouring the television series based on these books so I thought I would give them a try. It is possible that my opinions on the show may have had some impact on my enjoyment of this book.
The style of Call the Midwife reminds me of the books by James Herriot (All Creatures Great and Small etc) but of course it involves midwifery rather than veterinary medicine. I don’t mind the style but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. The book is made up mostly different short stories thematically combined with the midwife as the connection between them and the majority of the book being about the different cases she cared for.
I was surprised that the television show is more dramatic than the book. It is rare for me to get through one of the television episodes without needing tissues but I didn’t have the same teary response to the book. Part of it may be mature Jennifer’s distance from the events which comes across in the style of writing. The first chapter where Jimmy is introduced we are told that he eventually gets a girl pregnant, marries her, and becomes a henpecked husband. In the show there is a whole complicated story line about Jimmy loving Jennifer but her being stuck on a man in her past. I give that as an example of what I mean by Jennifer’s distance from the events.
I did think that certain characters are better shown in the book than the television show, particularly Sister Evangeline. I also enjoyed more of the medical explanations in the book. I work in the medical field so any books that talk about the changes in medical practices fascinates me.
This book is an interesting insight into history and I really enjoyed it but I do think that some fans of the show may find the book less enjoyable because of the narrators distance and also because there is much less focus on characters than there is in the show.