Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CALL THE MIDWIFE: Shadows of the Workhouse + GIVEAWAY


Have you had a chance to check out Call the Midwife on PBS yet? If you haven't, check out my review of Season 1.  It is a superb show based on the best selling memoriors of Jennifer Worth about midwifery and nuns in East London during the 1950s.

The casting, sets and story line is a wonderful, refreshing, change from the science fiction, police dramas and reality nightmares on TV these days.

I read Call the Midwife Shadows of the Workhouse last week and LOVED it. Shadows of the Workhouse focuses on the people who lived at Nonnatus House with Jennifer.


The sequel to Jennifer Worth's New York Times bestselling memoir and the basis for the PBS series Call the Midwife 
When twenty-two-year-old Jennifer Worth, from a comfortable middle-class upbringing, went to work as a midwife in the direst section of postwar London, she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she also became the neighborhood's most vivid chronicler. Woven into the ongoing tales of her life in the East End are the true stories of the people Worth met who grew up in the dreaded workhouse, a Dickensian institution that limped on into the middle of the twentieth century.

Orphaned brother and sister Peggy and Frank lived in the workhouse until Frank got free and returned to rescue his sister. Bubbly Jane's spirit was broken by the cruelty of the workhouse master until she found kindness and romance years later at Nonnatus House. Mr. Collett, a Boer War veteran, lost his family in the two world wars and died in the workhouse.

Though these are stories of unimaginable hardship, what shines through each is the resilience of the human spirit and the strength, courage, and humor of people determined to build a future for themselves against the odds. This is an enduring work of literary nonfiction, at once a warmhearted coming-of-age story and a startling look at people's lives in the poorest section of postwar London.

There's Jane, who cleaned and generally helped out at Nonnatus House - she was taken to the workhouse as a baby and was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. Peggy and Frank's parents both died within 6 months of each other and the children were left destitute. At the time, there was no other option for them but the workhouse. The Reverend Thornton-Appleby-Thorton, a missionary in Africa, visits the Nonnatus nuns and Sister Julienne acts as matchmaker. And Sister Monica Joan, the eccentric ninety-year-old nun, is accused of shoplifting some small items from the local market. She is let off with a warning, but then Jennifer finds stolen jewels from Hatton Garden in the nun's room. These stories give a fascinating insight into the resilience and spirit that enabled ordinary people to overcome their difficulties.

The 411 by Maria:

I am completely intrigued by the story of the midwives; what brought them to the Nonnatus House and the lives of the people they served. Jane's story completely brought me to tears.  The times were hard, people had to be hard but there was so much suffering that my heartaches for the times. The author does a wonderful job of rewinding life so that you can imagine the deplorable conditions, the struggles, the people and how hard life is for so many. 

The book is compiled into three different part. Part 1 focuses on the Workhouse Children; Part 2 The Trial of Sister Monica Joan and Part 3; The Old Soldier. Each one reads beautifully and reminds us of how far we have come and how very fortunate we are.

Jennifer Worth

The continuation of Jennifer Worth’s #1 UK bestselling memoir trilogy, and the basis for the popular

BBC and PBS series, “Call the Midwife

Shadows of the Workhouse
Jennifer Worth
Ecco Trade Paperback Original; On sale 1/22/13

Praise for Jennifer Worth
“[Worth’s] well-polished anecdotes are teeming with character detail of some of the more memorable nurses she worked with.”
¾Publishers Weekly

“A warm, amiable portrait of hands-on medical practice….A
charming tale of deliveries and deliverance.”

“Jennifer Worth’s memories of her years as a midwife were at once hilarious and
tremendously moving.” 
 —Ayelet Waldman, author of Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

“Readers will fall in love with Call the Midwife. . . an affirmation of life during the best and
worst of times.”   
— Elizabeth Brundage, author of The Doctor's Wife

“With deep professional knowledge of midwifery and an unerring eye for the details
of life in the London slums of the Nineteen Fifties Jennifer Worth has painted a
stunningly vivid picture of an era now passed.”  
Patrick Taylor, MD, author of the New York Times bestseller An Irish Country Doctor

In the 1950’s, twenty-two year old Jennifer Worth left her comfortable middle class life to work as a midwife in the East End, the direst section of postwar London. During her time there as a midwife she not only delivered hundreds of babies and touched many lives, she became its most vivid chronicler. Worth’s masterfully written trilogy of memoirs have since become the basis for the smash BBC series “Call the Midwife” and have all been #1 bestsellers in the UK. PBS just finished airing the first season of “Call the Midwife” to critical acclaim and will air the second season in March 2013.

When Worth became a midwife in the 1950s, working with the Nonnatus nuns in the East End of London, she joined a community whose lives had often been touched by the shadow of the workhouse, a persistant Victorian institution in which the poor¾ adults and children alike ¾ lived like prisoners. In CALL THE MIDWIFE: SHADOWS OF THE WORKHOUSE (Ecco Trade Paperback Original; On Sale January 22, 2013), the follow up to her critically acclaimed book, Call the Midwife, Worth tells the true stories of the people whoses lves had been warped by such places. There is the story of Peggy and Frank whose parents both died within six months of each other leaving them as destitute children; the story of 7-year-old Jane whose bubbly spirit was broken by the cruelty of the master of the workhouse; and the story of Mr. Collett, a Boer War veteran, who lost his family in the two world wars and ended up in a relic of the workhouse system.

As in Worth’s other books, what shines through in these portrayals of triumph over tragedy is the unbreakable resilience of the human spirit.  CALL THE MIDWIFE: SHADOWS OF THE WORKHOUSE provides more amazing examples of the strength, courage, and humor of a people determined to build a future for themselves against the odds.

Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and was later ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, then the Marie Curie Hospital, also in London. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 she left nursing in order to study music intensively, teaching piano and singing for about twenty-five years. Jennifer died in May 2011 after a short illness, leaving her husband Philip, two daughters, and three grandchildren. Her books have all been bestsellers in England.

Ecco will publish the 3rd installment of the Call the Midwife memoir trilogy,
on March 12, 2013.

By Jennifer Worth
Ecco Trade Paperback; On Sale: January 22, 2013
Price: $15.99; 304 Pages; ISBN: 9780062270047

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy for my honest opinion.


  1. I have not had the chance to watch,. I know my Mother would love this.

  2. I do not watch so I will give this to my sister

    tiramisu392 (at) yahoo.com

  3. Loved the show! My favorite is Chummy.

  4. OH, ya gotta love Chummy! She's so sweet and bumbly.

    h4schaffer at gmail dot com


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