Millions have fallen in love with Jennifer Worth and her experiences in the East End as chronicled in Call the Midwife but little is known about her life outside this period. Now, in this moving and evocative memoir, Jennifer’s sister, Christine, takes us from their early idyllic years to the cruelty and neglect they suffered after their parents divorced, from Jennifer being forced to leave home at fourteen to their training as nurses.
After leaving nursing Jennifer took up a career in music, her first love, and Christine became a sculptor, but through marriages and children, joy and heartbreak, their lives remained intertwined. Absorbing and emotional, The Midwife’s Sister by Christine Lee is testimony to an enduring bond between two extraordinary women.
The title is correct, the description of the book misleading.
The two sisters did not get on. Their childhood was fucking tough after the divorce of their parents. This isn’t Jenny’s story. She isn’t portrayed as the saint she was in The Call the Midwife books. God knows, we’re all flawed and given her background. She was thrown out at 15 and was in a secret relationship with an older man. The book lacks warmth. The copy I read needed editing. I didn’t enjoy the writing. It’s a long book. It is revealing. If you like Call the Midwife, this book may spoil it for you. I wondered at times what I was reading and why. I went into reading this not having looked at the blurb or the reviews and certainly didn’t expect what I read. The Midwife’s Sister was interesting.
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I slot the key into the lock and turn it. With my foot on the bottom of the rotten door frame, I push open the door, and step into the shop. The post under my feet crunches. I shut the door and crouch down to scoop them up. Tentatively I weave my way through Betty Boop statues, and Bamboo side tables to the back of the room, where I place the post on the till, which leaves my fingers coated in grime.
My phone bings. I swipe up the screen. Name: Dani. I put the phone to my ear. ‘Hello.’ I say. ‘Hi’ Dani says. ‘Can you see me?’ ‘When.’ ‘Now, later, tonight. Whenever.’ ‘I can’t, really. I have a doctor’s appointment, then I go to the council, and the Jobcentre. Then I have to do some shopping.’ ‘OK. See ya when I see ya then.’ Beep.
I scratch my shoulder, pulling the vodka out of the plastic bag I bought in with me. I take out the plastic cups, and rip off the wrapping, slipping a cup from the bottom of the tube. My hand shakes as I pour the vodka into the cup, and put the bottle down on the till, sliding a small bottle of lemonade from the bag, and topping it up. A carriage clock ticks. Ominous. I can’t stand the ticking of a clock. I will have to find a way to silence them. All of them. My eyes run along the shelves of clocks: glinting silver, and gold soldiers.
Thanks for reading. I hope you took something from it. Drop me a comment below, let me know if there’s anything of yours that you have published recently because I am always up for reading new stuff;
Dry is the story of Augustin, of his drinking which isn’t a problem, of entering rehab at the request of his employers, and then navigating life on the outside: sober. I highlighted this part – when Augustin began to realise the consequences of his drinking, demonstrated by the bottles that had piled up in his flat and on his return home, having to bag them all up. I liked that metaphoric imagery of the weight of drinking. (Looking too deeply into things again, Kate?)
‘I feel like I drank a bottle of wine. I even feel guilty,’ ‘Exactly,’ I say, relieved that he feels it too. Relieved that I am not the only one who is so unaccustomed to happiness and the feeling of impending punishment that follows.’
Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
Published by Amazon Publishing
Coming Clean is a well written memoir, starting with stories from Kimberly’s childhood – then expanding on her family and her father: a hoarder. I liked how she wrote about hoarding realities vs the stereotypical images we have all seen depicted on televisions shows. It was a good read if you want a real, honest account on what it is like to live with and know a hoarder.