Fact or Fiction: Midwives

Choose a fascinating novel, a compelling memoir or both! Either way you’ll enter a midwife’s world of bringing in new babies under the most challenging circumstances.

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the StarsIn a tiny maternity/fever ward in a Dublin hospital in 1918, Nurse Julia Power cares for her pregnant patients the best way she knows how. Fighting against the effects of ignorance, poverty, poor nutrition, scant supplies and most of all, the deadly influenza, Nurse Power struggles to safely deliver babies and keep the mothers alive. Her weapons are shockingly primitive – a few grains of aspirin, whiskey and urghh, beef tea. However, Julia is innovative, compassionate and courageous as birth and death cycle through her ward. Taking place over three days, The Pull of the Stars brings to life not only the sights, sounds, and smells of a maternity ward but also the palpable grimness and fear of a city in the grip of a deadly pandemic. 

The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth

The MidwifeFrom a tiny ward in 1917 Dublin we move to London, for somewhere in the East End a baby is about to be born. A capable, navy-clad woman with a delivery bag secured to her bicycle pedals through crowded streets determined to bring another soul safely into the world. She is a district midwife, a respected, thoroughly trained professional, who filled an essential role in 1950s London where many poor and working class families still had their babies at home. 

Although these midwives were not fighting influenza, they had their own challenges: squalid tenements with no running water or lavatories; women whose bodies were already worn out by caring for many children and the hardness of their lives; and overcrowded rooms where pests and disease ran rampant. The experiences of one midwife, her patients and the hardships of life in a London slum are the subjects of Jennifer Worth’s frankly-told and fascinating memoir The Midwife.

Constant reader, book selector, shameless promoter of good reads - these are just a few of the things I do as a Collection Development Professional. I love sharing the hidden gems in our nonfiction collection!