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Farewell to the East End

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This is the last of the trilogy by Jennifer Worth of her work as a midwife in the East End of London. Having enjoyed the previous two Call the Midwife and Shadows of the Workhouse I was not surprised to enjoy this too.


This book covers the later part of the 50s and early 60s when Poplar was being demolished after the savage bombing it got during the war and the Isle of Dogs was going through huge changes as modernisation took away the work of the dockers. Despite this families were still living in some of the derelict buildings and in obviously appalling conditions.


So the final book covers stories of some of the patients, some of the nuns and of the nurses who worked with Worth. All are entertaining in their own way and at the end there is an epilogue of what happened to the nurses in later life. It tidies up everything nicely.


This is certainly not a demanding read but it is informative and very entertaining - if a little gruesome at times. For the history of time, place and nursing this is a good read.

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    • By Barblue
      I debated whether to put this review here, but think it's the right place. The books is subtitled - A true story of the East End in the 1950s. But it's really the story of Jennifer Worth the Midwife.
      I loved this book. Firstly, I loved the fact that it was about a part of London, my home city. Secondly in the 1950s I would have been a child, but I remember London quite well from that time with all the bomb sites and squalor. So, as far as I was concerned it had quite a bit going for it. Then again, I have relatives who are or were nurses, so I was intrigued.
      I liked Jennifer Worth's writing style. It is down-to-earth and friendly - as if a friend is telling you stories about her life - which is exactly what she is doing. There are chapters about many of the characters Worth met as a very young and somewhat inexperienced Midwife in the Docklands area of London. Each character comes to life and every nuance of their experiences are set out on the page. Perhaps I should add here that it is not for the medically squeamish as there is a lot of detail about childbirth.
      Behind all the patient characters are those in the convent from which the author worked. An unusual situation that lends itself to yet more characters in the nuns and her reactions to them.
      This was a book I didn't want to put down. It brought the whole era in that City to life and illustrated the early work of the National Health Service and especially, of course, the Midwifery. If I have one criticism it was that some facts were repeated several times - such as the lack of Midwifery service before the 20th Century, as well as people's dislike of hospitals (nothing new there) and the workhouses. Apart from that I loved it.
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