I can’t believe it has been over nine months since I did a post.  I have been reading a lot, just not not blogging about my the books I’ve read.  While visiting my Mother and Sister in England, I picked up Farewell to the East End, by Jennifer Worth, off my sister’s bookshelf.  I could’t put it down.  I downloaded the series onto my kindle and then read Call the Midwife, Farewell to the East End and Shadows of the Workhouse in a few days.  I’d watched a few episodes of Call the Midwife and enjoyed them.  I could imagine the characters while I was reading the book, but as usual, books are better because they simply give you more insight than the screen does.

The series follows a time in the author’s life, in the late 1950’s when she was a newly qualified midwife, in her mid twenties, working in a convent in the East End, with Anglican nuns, and several other young nurses, who she becomes friends with. Maybe one of the reasons I was engrossed in the series, is because I am a nurse and found her stories fascinating.  I also enjoy history and it was interesting reading about England in the fifties, when it was recovering from the second world war.  I know about the the second world war and the bombing of London by the Germans – who doesn’t, but what of the years afterwards? When the East end was recovering from the devastation of being bombed and large parts of the area and buildings in rubble?  It was a time when Britain began looking after it’s people by providing free health services, something that even fifty years previously was unheard of.  Not only are her stories of the 1950’s but she writes about the history of nursing and midwifery, and how many suffered in the workhouses.  She shares some amazing experiences she and her fellow nurses/sisters went through.  Of the poverty of the people they nursed, but how the people maintained their dignity as best they could, and worked as hard as they could, despite the numerous hardships they lived under constantly.  As a nurse, I certainly have my own stories to tell I think, but her stories are from a different era, and just seem so much more interesting compared to what I have experienced as a nurse.  The workhouse stories were sad.  The workhouses were started with apparently good intentions, to house the destitute and orphans, but the workhouses were hard, and the children of course suffered the most.  That sort of reading isn’t the easiest, but stories like that have to be written.  Stories like that give mankind a choice not to repeat the mistakes of the past.  Not that it always takes those chances mind you.

Well worth the read.

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