Monday, March 09, 2015

Call the Midwife (2002)

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times. Jennifer Worth. 2002/2009. Penguin. 340 pages. [Source: Library]

I have now read all three of Jennifer Worth's memoirs. Yes, I read the first book in the series last because that's how the library fated it. This actually worked out okay because I was familiar enough with the television adaptation. First, I want to mention that I loved, loved, loved, LOVED the tv show. Did I enjoy the books as much, did I enjoy them equally well? Probably not. I loved the show more, I did. I'll be honest about that from the start.

But did I enjoy the books? Yes. I definitely did. But was the first book my favorite? I can't say that it was. There were things I liked/loved about all three books. And. There were things I didn't quite like about all three books.

What didn't I enjoy? Well. In this first book, for example, there are several chapters where the focus is on prostitution, the focus shifts in the narrative because Jenny Lee has met a pregnant prostitute, Mary, who's trying to escape her pimp and find somewhere (relatively) safe to keep her baby. As you might expect, it's a dark, ugly, nightmarish world she's describing. I don't fault her for being realistic and matter of fact. But the amount of detail involved in the telling is a bit much at times. I think it could have been retold with a little less detail and still conveyed the same impact.

What did I enjoy? Well, there was plenty to enjoy! Most of the chapters were enjoyable enough. Many of these chapters have been adapted as episodes for the show--though not all, I believe. And in some cases, the book presents a much fuller picture.

As far as the trilogy goes, there is in some ways a lot less focus on romance when compared to the adaptation. (Jane's romance being an exception in the second book.) But the trilogy is worth reading, maybe not for ALL fans, but for many fans. (I will say that the book is more graphic in description than the tv show.)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Carol 3:45 AM  

I've watched the series on DVD & loved it too. I know someone with the books & she made the same observation you did & I've been a bit reluctant to read them. I don't want to spoil my enjoyment of the movie version, which is the reverse of how I usually feel about movies & books.

Joy Weese Moll (@joyweesemoll) 2:13 PM  

I really enjoy the show! I'm embarrassed to say that I fairly frequently stick to shows and movies rather than going back to the books. There's just so many books, that I appreciate when I can get the story in some other way. I'll use my reading time for stories that don't ever make it to the small or large screen.

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