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This non-fiction work has been made famous by the BBC series of the same name which was based on Jennifer Worth’s memoirs. Being a big fan of the series, I was eager to read the book, and I was not disappointed.

If you have seen the series, many of the stories and characters contained within this book will be familiar to you; if you haven’t seen it (first of all, why not?!) and second of all, it doesn’t matter a jot. The book preceded the show and therefore you don’t need any prior knowledge to enjoy this book.

Rather than a chronological account, the author tells many different stories from her time at Nonnatus House in the East End of London as a midwife. Many of the stories are heartwarming and amusing, but there are also some tragic tales – the story of Mary, a young girl who ran away from Ireland to escape abuse only to find a worse fate waiting for her in London, is heartbreaking.

I felt that the characters of the Nuns of Nonnatus House were well described, although I didn’t feel that I learned much about Jennifer (Jenny) herself. It is clear from her writing that she was well-educated and intelligent, but other than that, she is largely reticent about her private life. However, the real heart of this book lies in the East End characters and indeed the East End itself – I feel that she brought the time period to life very well, and overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

Highly recommended.

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