In the Midst of Life – a review

Jennifer Worth is well known by UK readers as the writer of Call the Midwife, a very well received memoir about her time as a midwife in the South East of England in the 50s. In the Midst of Life is the fourth book in her memoir series, and in a departure of the theme of the prior books based around her time as midwife this book instead focuses on her time as a nurse working in various end-of-life situations.


Now it’s my own stupid fault, but I hadn’t realised this wasn’t about her time in midwifery, so that was something I had to “get over” but as Worth’s writing is always beautiful this didn’t take long. I found the topics discussed in here incredibly interesting. They definitely made me think a lot more about my own death, the death of my parents and grandparents, and the end of life care that they will receive.

We often assume that doctors know best. And in many occasions, of course, they do. But there are aspects of their patients lives that they don’t know about. And nurses have much more of a window into this side of their patients lives. Two of my aunts are nurses, as well as some of my friends, and the work they do is demanding, in some cases demeaning and is never compensated to the level I think it should be. But in all cases I’ve seen, they spend a lot more time with the patient and know them a lot more intimately. This book will give you food for thought on whether the doctors approach or the nurses approach is best.

I’m definitely glad that I’ve read this book, as I know for a fact the pointers in it will stick with me for many years and I will use what I thought on here in moments of difficulty in my future (hopefully far into my future). Have you read this? Have you even heard of it? Let me know!

Correspondence with Jennifer Worth

Call the Midwife is a well known BBC TV series in the UK, well known enough that a few people from other countries might recognise it too! The first series followed the real life events of Jenny Lee as a midwife working from a nunnery in the slums of post-WWII Britain. Heart-wrenching and memory-inducing for those who had lived through these times, she received many letters from readers.

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It was quite interesting to read these letters, to learn little tit-bits more about life during this time. However, I didn’t enjoy this book overall. It felt like I was invading people’s privacy, to be reading their letters to an author. I’m not sure whether the publishing house tried to track each individual down to get their permission.

I also had been expecting to fall into the book like I have with Worth’s memoirs and was sadly disappointed. This was an interesting but slow read and at many points I did consider DNFing it and just putting it on my read shelf. But I wanted to push through, and so I did.

If you’d like a complete collection of the Call the Midwife books then this is obviously one to pick up, and it is relatively interesting, however, it’s not a book I would recommend because of reading enjoyment and I won’t be picking it up again. I have one more of Worth’s memoirs to read and I’m far more anticipatory for that.