Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Book No. 3 of the Year - already!

I've really rattled through my third book of the year because it's a Book Club book and the meeting is on Wednesday. Also, I enjoyed it and it was a very easy read.

So, without further ado, I present to you Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth.

No doubt you've heard of, if not watched, the tv programme of the same name. I've watched it from the beginning; hubby has also watched the majority of the series and we both enjoy it very much, for the historical aspect as much as the storylines, characters, etc.

It's one of the dilemmas, is it not, of reading a book on which a film or tv series is based: most people find that the film/tv programme is never as good as the book (rarely the other way round, I think); alternatively, if you read the book after watching the film/tv programme, you can find your view of the book is affected by what you've seen on the big or small screen. The latter was definitely a factor for me as all my ideas of the characters/locations/experiences in the book were based on what I've seen on the tv. I'm going to take a positive view on this, because I find the tv programme enjoyable so it was lovely to picture dear old Chummy, Sister Evangelina, Sister Monica Joan, Fred the boiler man, etc, etc as I read the book. Quite a number of the stories (both good and not so good) were very similar to how they have been depicted in the tv series (Mrs Jenkins and her children who ended up in the workhouse, Conchita Warren the Spanish lady with an English husband) which was great for helping to picture the conditions in which they lived. However, it's easy to see that the book has been 'prettified' for television. The living conditions described in the book are one hundred times worse that those shown on tv, not to mention some of the birth stories - perhaps the pre-watershed Sunday evening slot isn't quite ready for the grim realities of 1950s Poplar. 

Having said all of that, I do wonder how much I would have enjoyed this book if I hadn't watched the tv series. I think that a number of the characters really need a lot of filling out (Trixie and Cynthia, for instance) and some more information on their backgrounds would be interesting - for instance Jenny, the main character, mentions having lived in Paris - I want to know why and when, but then there are three more books in the series, so perhaps we find out more if we read on! I'm definitely going to add the other books to my bookcase if I see them in a charity shop or can swap them on ReadItSwapIt.

So, if you've watched and enjoyed the tv series, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the book(s); otherwise, I wonder if it might be a tiny bit weak, but worth a read nonetheless, especially if modern social history is your kind of thing.


  1. I've not seen the tv series although heard plenty about it, maybe not one to put on my "must read" list? We've had a good one this month at reading group, I wondered whether to do a book post about it. x

    1. Sorry it wasn't meant to be a mystery book! I'll try to post about it when I see what the others in the group thought about it - I may be the only one to have enjoyed it!!

  2. My Mum bought me this book about 2 years ago, heaven knows why - I have never wanted children so why she thought I'd enjoy reading grisly birthing tales is odd. I think she thought I'd like it as it was set in the 50s.
    I didn't enjoy the book, or perhaps it was that I didn't enjoy the subject matter. I watched the first series and enjoyed it more than expected as it was a watered down portrayal. I haven't bothered with the Xmas special or second series.

  3. I have to say, the social history aspect of the book is fascinating, and so much worse than anything portrayed in the tv series. It really is hard to believe that the living conditions/situations described are within the lifetime of many people we know.


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