Poverty, birth, and unmentionables

How do you decide what to read next? For me, its a variety of sources and a great deal of serendipity. I found The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times in a list of “nonfiction that reads like fiction” books. I like nonfiction reading, so it isn’t hard for me to find something that is enjoyable. The “nonfiction that reads like fiction” label is probably used with good intention, however I find it off target. The books are well written? Have a strong plot? Are enjoyable? Are easy to digest? I’m not coming up with a good alternative description for these books, but you will quickly come up with one.

I loved The Midwife, which is the memoir of a¬†young nurse that trains and practices as a midwife in 1950’s in London’s East End. Jenny Lee works out of a convent that provides nursing/OB/GYN services to the poverty-stricken neighborhood. Through reading this book, I met the naughty (or senile?) nun that eats at least half of a cake intended for the entire convent. I also met the pig-enthusiast nun who assures the janitor that rough pig intercourse is normal, as they observe it. I also learned the secret to a happy marriage, even after 24 children!

What I won’t be doing is discussing this book with my mother. Okay, perhaps the secret to a happy marriage, but not the naughty bits. I don’t prohibit my mother from reading this book, I just don’t want to talk to her about it.

When I recorded The Midwife in my LibraryThing list, I was thrilled to see that it is the first of a trilogy! It is followed by Shadows of the Workhouse and Farewell to the East End. These books will be approached with caution, as it is always difficult when the first book isn’t nearly as good as the second or third. I didn’t find the second or third books in my library, so I promptly purchased them (an unusual activity for me).

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