Tag: Memoir

Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth

Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse
Author: Jennifer Worth
Published: June 30, 2008
Audible

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

In this follow up to CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in the docklands area of East London in the 1950s tells more stories about the people she encountered.

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.

Kim’s Review:

Jennifer Worth is so good at portraying history in a way that helps you visualize it all happening. As a historian, there are some problems I have with her revelations . . . it’s hard to write about what another person is thinking when you weren’t there, but her storytelling methods are sound and effective.

This book focused more on the district nurses’ side of things in the East End of London. Learning about individuals who actually lived in the workhouses was fascinating. I am so jealous that she got to talk and interact with these people; I would give my right arm to have been able to meet them!

The long-term effect that the workhouses had on society astounded me. Older people refused to go to hospitals simply because those buildings used to be workhouses, all nearly thirty years since the workhouses closed! And my favorite figure in this collection of stories is old Mr. Collett. He was a war hero and a sweet, lonely old gentleman. The relationship that Jenny develops with him is heartwarming and informative and I found myself in tears when she wrote of his death. I absolutely recommend this as an educational tool in high school classrooms and to anyone who is interested in honest history.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

 

 

Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times
Author: Jennifer Worth

Published:  April 7, 2009
Audible

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Viewers everywhere have fallen in love with this candid look at post-war London. In the 1950s, twenty-two-year-old Jenny Lee leaves her comfortable home to move into a convent and become a midwife in London’s East End slums. While delivering babies all over the city, Jenny encounters a colorful cast of women—from the plucky, warm-hearted nuns with whom she lives, to the woman with twenty-four children who can’t speak English, to the prostitutes of the city’s seedier side. An unfortgettable story of motherhood, the bravery of a community, and the strength of remarkable and inspiring women, Call the Midwife is the true story behind the beloved PBS series, which will soon return for its sixth season.

Kim’s Review:

I love this book! This time through was my fourth-time reading Call the Midwife. This was another of Audible’s Daily Deals and I am so glad that I got it! And specific to the audiobook, the narrator, Nicola Barber is fantastic! She has one of those voices that draws you in and is a pleasure to listen to. As for the story, Jennifer gives such amazing insight into a world that doesn’t exist anymore. And, of course, as a historian, I am all over that! Not even distant history, the East End of London in the 1950s was a fascinating place. It honestly reminds me of the rural, Southern US towns where every knows everyone else and everyone talks to everyone and you can’t walk down the street without saying hello to everyone in town. The comradery is something that our present world desperately needs and if we had it, there would be far fewer problems.

If I had the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus Midwives and District Nurses in my community, then I would plan of having all my kids at home and never set foot in a hospital. But I’ve decided not to have kids because it sound horrible! Especially in this book! There are detailed accounts of childbirth in all kind of conditions and frankly, it all sounds nasty so no thank you! But, back to the sisters, they sound like such wonderful people. I am genuinely sad that I never got to meet Sister Monica Joan or Sister Julienne. Sister Monica Joan is one of those people that makes life interesting. One minute you’re angry with her for being so crotchety, the next you’re laughing at her naughty antics, the next you’re feeling sorry for her senility and frailty.

One thing that surprised me about the sisters is their flexibility. Jennifer often talks about the strictness of hospital staff with the nurses contrasted with the sisters and their sense of understanding and fun. You don’t really expect that with nuns and it was a pleasant, refreshing surprise. By the time I was finished, I felt like I actually knew the people written about in this book. I have an understanding of the Cockney people that I didn’t before. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone. This is another book I bought for my mother-in-law over a year ago and she still talks about! I believe that anyone who enjoys a good story, fun characters, hilarious situations, detailed medical issues, or history would love reading Call the Midwife.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

 

 

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Kids, Camels, & Cairo by Jill Dobbe

Author: Jill Dobbe
Published:  May 28, 2016
168 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 12-16, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Each morning my eyes popped open the second I heard the call to prayer resound through the air. At 7:00 A.M., I walked out onto a rare quiet Cairo street and waited for the school van to pick me up. Climbing onto the van, I found a seat alongside the foreign and Muslim teachers, where I was only one of a few women not wearing hijab. It was Sunday morning, the start of another Islamic week of trying to discipline rich and apathetic students.

Traveling across the globe to work in an international school in Cairo, Egypt, was not exactly the glamorous lifestyle I thought it would be. I cherished my travels to the Red Sea, delighted in visiting the Pyramids, and appreciated the natural wonders of the Nile River. However, I also spent days without electricity or internet, was leered at by rude Egyptian men, breathed in Cairo’s cancerous black smog, and coaxed school work from students.

KIDS, CAMELS, & CAIRO is a lighthearted read about Jill Dobbe’s personal experiences as an educator abroad. Whether you’re an educator, a traveler, or just a curious reader, you will be astounded at this honest and riveting account of learning to live in an Islamic society, while confronting the frustrating challenges of being an educator in a Muslim school.

Jessica’s Review:

Jill Dobbe has written her memoir of her two years of life in Egypt while working in an international (though mainly Egyptian) school. She was there with her husband and daughter. Dobbe is from Wisconsin and that is a whole world of difference from Cairo, Egypt!  We experience the cultural and religious shocks that she experiences. 

I was looking forward to reading this memoir as I visited Egypt back in 2006. Dobbe really delivered with her descriptions of Cairo which included the dirtiness of the city and the extreme differences in the poor and wealthy.  As I was reading, I felt myself returning to Egypt myself and remembering some of the places that we both visited. We also lived through her two years of teaching, which at times was difficult for Dobbe, in particular not knowing the language. It seemed at times she was unprepared for the cultural differences of Egypt compared to the USA.  Though adjusted, it did not seem like they researched Egypt before moving there. I felt for her daughter who moved with them during her senior year of high school.  Senior year is a special time of change for a student and I feel Dobbe’s daughter missed out on some of the usual experiences that a senior faces. Granted, her daughter did get a once in a lifetime experience: a year of school in a foreign country. I just would not have picked my child’s senior year as the year to move to Cairo.

We were able to take trips with Dobbe and her family as they took vacations to various parts of Egypt that many Americans may never get to see. Dobbe describes everything very well, you really feel like you are with her while reading this novel. Dobbe also includes a few pictures of her time in Egypt which enhances the read.  Reading Kids, Camels, and Cairo had me wanting to go back to Egypt again! Reading this memoir helped me to remember my trip fondly. 

I enjoyed this memoir and look forward to reading Dobbe’s other memoirs. 

Kids, Camels, and Cairo is recommended! I received a copy of the memoir from the author. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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