Many are familiar with these stories from the author's practice as a midwife among the urban poor in London's East End in the 1950s.  Each piece stands alone as a story about a particular case. Many of them are rich with the drama of emergency interventions, birth in complicated families (most of them poor), home births in squalid conditions, and the efforts of midwives to improve public health services, sanitation, and pre- and post-natal care with limited resources in a city decimated by wartime bombings.  As a gallery of the different types of women in the Anglican religious order that housed the midwives and administered their services, and the different types of women who lived, survived, and even thrived in the most depressing part of London, the book provides a fascinating angle on social and medical history and women's studies.


This collection is well worth reading even if one has seen and enjoyed the entire superb TV series based on it.  Worth's writing is lively, reflective, and rich with historical perspectives not rendered in the filmed version.  She writes with imagination and compassion about other women's lives, and with deep enthusiasm about a strenuous profession she entered largely unprepared for the class differences and other social challenges it presented.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in women in medicine, the history of childbirth, or public health--or just a very good read!


Weidenfeld and Nicholson

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