Summary- Jennifer cares for patients and learns how life in the workhouse changed them forever.
My rating: 4/5
This book is technically Book #2 of the Midwife Trilogy but I think it is unfair to call it that. This book does feature Jennifer who learned about midwifery in book #1 but I feel like having this book as part of the series may confuse some readers. This book is not about midwifery. The focus of this book is on adults who suffered in one way or another from workhouse life.
The stories in the book do appear in the television show but they are fairly different. Unlike the television series Jennifer goes into deep background about many of the patients but I was concerned about her reliability as a narrator because the book is supposed to be a memoir but she describes scenes that she had no personal knowledge of much like the narrator of a fictitious story.
For example, the following scene takes place when Frank (for those who have seen the television show Frank is the brother dying of cancer and Peggy is the sister who shares a bed with him) realizes his mother hasn’t come home from work.
“Now, in the dark and cold of the room , the bed felt like hostile and alien territory and he wanted to run away from it, run to the next door neighbors screaming. But there was Peggy to think of. She was quietly sleeping, unaware that anything was wrong. So he bit his lips, rubbed his fists into his eyes and cuddled up close to her” (54).
The above scene happened about twenty years before Jennifer was born and I can hardly imagine the people involved telling her all this especially when they were mere children. Frank was just six at the time.
I am not saying that this made the book any less interesting. In fact, it probably improved the readability quite a bit because the reader gets background so that the she can better understand their story. Still, it is jarring to expect a memoir on midwifery and to instead get stories of little boys and girls sent to the workhouse.
The stories were good and I did enjoy them. I watch the television show and in some instances it was nice to have more background on characters that were just touched on in the show.
This book also has an emphasis on history which I love.
I would recommend this to people interested in history. This is not the right book for anyone wanting a memoir about midwifery in the 1950’s.