“Call the Midwife,” Jennifer Worth
The base for the popular British series of the same name, “Call the Midwife” fills the void that, according to the author, persisted in literature when it came to talking about medicine. Most characters described were male doctors and the scarce female doctors were far and few in between. And that’s not to talk about midwives, which were almost nonexistent in literature until Worth wrote this semi-memoir. It describes her days as a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s, the nuns she worked with, and the patients she saw. Although there is no continuity between each person or scenario she relates—there is no sense of time at all in the novel, only when she refers to the 1950s and how people lived in that period—which I have to admit, makes it much less intriguing than the series, the element I love most is all the women she describes and the amazing work they did. By the way, this might just be the first time ever I liked a series better than a book! Just goes to show that there is always an exception to the rule.
“The Hundred-Year House,” Rebecca Makkai
“The Hundred-Year House” is an under-whelming title if I ever saw one, especially for a novel as elaborate as this one. Makkai’s intricate novel tells the story of a house, and its family, backwards. Starting in present day and ending in 1900, it recounts suicides, identity thefts, and stories believable only because the characters themselves acknowledge them as reality and accept them as part of their daily lives. With so many details of each generation, it is easy to get a little lost through the telling of this story, and I think it’s not exactly unintentional on Makkai’s part. It adds not only to the mystery of her characters and their story, but also to the clandestine histories that await all of us, if only we were wont to discover them.