Call the Midwife: A True Story of the East End in the 1950s, By Jennifer Worth

Down-to-earth memoirs that gave birth to a TV series

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The Independent Culture

Cosy enough for Sunday night telly – as the BBC have shown with its new series based on her books – yet dark enough to make for compelling reading, the late Jennifer Worth's memoir of her life as a midwife in some of the poorest parts of London in the 1950s – an era that recalls the 19th century more easily than the 20th in terms of sanitation and birth control – is simple but moving.

With characters ranging from mother-of-24, Spanish Conchita, to teenage Molly, whose abusive husband puts her on the game, it cannot fail to tick the "laughter" and "tears" boxes, but it's also more explicit and down-to-earth than many might expect.