Shadows of the Workhouse

Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse
by Jennifer Worth

I was really looking forward to reading this book. I love the show and the first book was so good. I was excited to read more about her experiences as a Midwife in East End London, a poor area of the city.

This book covered several of the episodes from the TV Series, or I should say the TV series followed the stories found in this book. I really liked reading the stories, even though I had already watched the show and knew how they would turn out. They definitely stayed true to her book in the TV series.

Book two is somewhat different from the first book because it has far fewer stories in it. It really only follows three stories, which are divided into several chapters. This made for a slower paced book but I still found the stories fascinating and was quickly drawn into to the lives that the stories followed. But I did wish there were more stories about the midwives. None of the stories in this book really had anything to do with the Midwives, other then they told the stories of some of the people who they interacted with more often. That was one thing I really liked about the first book, were all the tales of what it was like to be a midwife in that era. I definitely enjoyed the first book more because of this.

The stories that were told though out were really eye opening. The one about the three who grew up in a workhouse was heart breaking. What horrible places those workhouses were! It kind of bothered me that she kept almost justifying how they came into existence. That back then they really didn't understand how terrible they were being towards the poor. It was really the first form of welfare attempted. But how could they not see the terrible conditions and hopelessness these workhouses created. I mean how can you write an entire book about the horrors of the workhouse but then say they didn't know any better. It was just so horrible! She did do a great job of explaining how they came to be and why the poor were treated that way. It is easy to see how a good idea to help the poor turned out so bad. There were people who tried to improve the situation but it was still just all so hopeless and depressing. It's just hard for me to accept any kind of justification.

I still think this was a good, worthwhile read. The history really is fascinating, even if it is a little depressing. It is good to remember the things that happened in the past so that we do better in the future.