Time is a funny thing to gauge. As invisible as the wind, it permeates and marks our own existence with unyielding fingers. Minutes, hours, and days can seem to be forever extended and the events of decades past can seem as relics of a different world. One which we can only catch a glimpse of in the form of fragmented black and white images.
Yet, Tales From a Midwife elegantly show that, pieced together, these images lead to one thing: The window in which we see the past is just a veneer of time, nothing more than a thin, transparent, silk curtain billowing with a small breeze, because the past is an open window that we cannot close so lightly.
These tales are both heart warming and heart wrenching, especially when we know they are historical accounts. Particularly when, though the background may be different, many of the practices and conditions of the 1950’s are still the same today. It is sometimes easy to dismiss anything from ten years, or more, as the past however, the scars from these recent events still prevail and underline even the toughest layers of our current society. After finishing this trilogy, you come to realize how all nations were built on the backs of the impoverished and the institutions that bound them in one form or another. The socio-economic conditions of the 1950’s were not just merely the background to Dickensian novels but reflections of the abhorring state of affairs whereby fellow beings were forced to adapt…or perish.
Yet, despite the extremity of the circumstances surrounding many of the stories, Jennifer Worth champions the voices of those whose shadows might have faded along the uneven cobblestone road leading to the future. These stories are of upmost important as they pay homage to the echoing voices of the past and remind us how crucial it is that our society as a whole, understands our predecessors struggles. Throughout Tales From a Midwife, the words of: honorable deeds, endearing nuns, and youthful perseverance positively shine as they embody the epitome of nobility and heroism.
The alternating first and third person narratives allow readers to fully immerse themselves in the routines of the midwives and nuns at Nonnatus House and the daily triumphs and struggles of those living in the East End. From the happiness found in the first breath of a newborn child, to the wrenching conditions of depravation in the workhouse (a welfare system gone terribly wrong) readers are transported through time’s doorway. Once the threshold is crossed, the doors leading back to Nonnatus House, and Jennifer Worth’s immersive narratives, are forever open.