This is an unconventional post because I do not often couple books with a TV show…however in this case I must. I pickedup a copy of the First Season of PBS/BBC’s Call the Midwife at the local library in hopes that it would be a bit in the same vein as Downton Abbey. I knew it wasn’t set in the same timed period, but assumed it was a similar type of period show…well yes and no. As a matter of fact, I found out that I like it even more than the Downton juggernaut!
Call the Midwife is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth who was a midwife in England in the 1950’s. Her book, originally published under the name The Midwives (not the one that was on Oprah’s list several years ago) tells the story of Nurse Jenny who came to a Nunnatus House to serve the economically disadvantaged after England instituted the Public Health System after WWII. My love of the series prompted me to start reading the book and I have to tell you, the births are described so well I would be lying if I said there were not moments I found myself panting right along with the mothers.
The characters are so rich that like a lot of books with an ensemble core, I find a little of myself in all of them. My weekend with the midwives even prompted me to pick up the TV series companion book, The Life and Times of Call the Midwife which illustrates how the show was put together, the actresses and a look back at post-war obstetrics when women still had babies at home, men were not present and a midwife the cornerstone of all deliveries. Buy the books, watch the show and be grateful for 21st Century medicine…no matter how much it costs!