TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times (The Midwife Trilogy #1) by Jennifer Worth

A True Story of the East End in the 1950s

Netflix vs Audiobook - Call the Midwife

Book Blurb:

Call the Midwife’ is a most extraordinary book and should be required reading of all students of midwifery, nursing, sociology and modern history. It tells of the experiences of a young trainee midwife in the East End of London in the 1950’s and is a graphic portrayal of the quite appalling conditions that the East Enders endured.

My Review:

If you ever feel badly about your childhood, tune into either the Netflix series or the audiobook of Call the Widwife by Jennifer Worth.  At least we had an outhouse—wasps in the summer, black widows otherwise. To hear the deplorable conditions of the East End of London in the 50s, however, is unimaginable. The conditions were horrid. The TV series gives you glimpses, and by the glimpses, I mean also the smells.

The Netflix Series

We discovered this series and immediately set about binge watching. We blazed through the first three episodes and beyond. Inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife, Shadows of the Workhouse, and Farewell to the East End, the series stays remarkably true to the original trilogy. However, the series took on a life of its own and grew far beyond the original characters into ten episodes with eleven being in the offing and eight, hour long episodes each. How many of those on Netflix? Actually, Season nine isn’t scheduled until 2021.

The show is, of course, a work of fiction, although Worth’s daughters Suzannah Hart and Juliette Walton loves that the performance of Jessica Raine (as Jenny)was terribly anxious that we should be happy with her performance and I think she’s got it just right.” Many of the characters and situations early on were borrowed from the memoirs.

It is Vanessa Redgrave, herself an icon, who narrated three series and then appeared on screen.

It’s eye-opening watching Jenny Lee learn about the slums of postwar Poplar. The characters of Sister Julienne, Cynthia, Chummy, Sister Evangelina, and Sister Monica Joan (among others) are introduced early and quickly claim a place in your heart—cast so exquisitely, and very true to what Worth’s daughters remember. Even the handyman Fred and all his shenanigans are recounted with relish.

The real life Nonnatus House was moved to Birmingham during the 70s. Jennifer Worth died in 2011 at the age of 75. The first episode aired in 2012.

The Audiobook

I’ll admit to being thrown just a bit starting the audiobook, wherein there was a prologue not introduced to the first BBC series episode. Not to fear—it quickly catches up and proceeds with memories, characters, and stories played so well in the TV series that it was easy to remember the episode and circumstance.

What I enjoyed in the audiobook were the jumps into some retrospection of the characters. We get a bit of backstory of the nuns and how they came to be midwives at the Nonnatus House.

Remarkable stories, as are some of the recreations of the accounts of several of the more difficult deliveries, especially as Jenny is being indoctrinated into the system of the House, the nuns, and the other midwives. Talk about heroes. Absolutely jaw-dropping tales of the 50s in London, the men, the women prior to any kind of birth control, the lack of sanitary conditions, clean and accessible water and toilets, and the unfortunate back alley remedy of unwanted pregnancy.

A powerful book relayed in realistic conversational tones of an amazing story, mesmerizing, full of heart and emotion, at times euphorically happy and triumphant and others tragically bewildered or heartbroken.

Overall Impression

If this isn’t a novel you’ve already discovered, I certainly recommend the audiobook. If you have Netflix available and haven’t already binge watched—check it out. Either way, this is a win-win.

Book Details:

Genre: Biography
Publisher:  Audible Audio

  • ASIN: B01N8XUV0Y
  •  Print Length: 352 pages

Listening Length: 12 hrs 1 min
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Publication Date: September 10, 2012
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)

Title Link: Call the Midwife [Amazon]
 

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Jennifer Worth - authorThe Author (Goodreads): [Jennifer] Worth, born Jennifer Lee while her parents were on holiday in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, was raised in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. After leaving school at the age of 14, she learned shorthand and typing and became the secretary to the head of Dr Challoner’s Grammar School. She then trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and moved to London to receive training to become a midwife.

Lee was hired as a staff nurse at the London Hospital in Whitechapel in the early 1950s. With the Sisters of St John the Divine, an Anglican community of nuns, she worked to aid the poor. She was then a ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Bloomsbury, and later at the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead.

She married the artist Philip Worth in 1963, and they had two daughters.

Worth retired from nursing in 1973 to pursue her musical interests. In 1974, she received a licentiate of the London College of Music, where she taught piano and singing. She obtained a fellowship in 1984. She performed as a soloist and with choirs throughout Britain and Europe.

She later began writing, and her first volume of memoirs, ‘Call the Midwife’, was published in 2002. The book became a bestseller when it was reissued in 2007. ‘Shadows of the Workhouse’ (2005; reissued 2008) and ‘Farewell to the East End’ (2009) also became bestsellers. The trilogy sold almost a million copies in the UK alone. In a fourth volume of memoirs ‘In the Midst of Life’, published in 2010, Worth reflects on her later experiences caring for the terminally ill.

Worth was highly critical of Mike Leigh’s 2004 film Vera Drake, for depicting the consequences of illegal abortions unrealistically. She argued that the method shown in the movie, far from being fairly quick and painless, was in fact almost invariably fatal to the mother.

Worth died on 31 May 2011, having been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus earlier in the year.

A television series, Call the Midwife, based on her books, began broadcasting on BBC One on 15 January 2012.

The Narrator: Nicola Barber is an Audie Award-winning narrator whose voice can be heard in television and radio commercials and popular video games such as World of Warcraft. Nicola is also an Audie nominee in the Solo Female Narration category for her work on Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen and Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth. –This text refers to the audioCD edition.

©2020 V Williams V Williams

Attribution: Worth’s personal information from interview with her daughters at Radio Times

TV Netflix Series vs Audiobook – Walt Longmire Mysteries – by Craig Johnson

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”
Sherlock Holmes

Longmire audiobook vs Netflix blog banner

Wahoo! One of my favorite Netflix series and lots of audiobooks (as well as ebooks) at my local well stocked library. We binged right through the Longmire series, even trying to discipline ourselves to three episodes per night, so of course when I discovered the audiobooks at my library I grabbed the first that wasn’t on a waiting list. And whadda know, it’s about bike week—Sturgis! (which, coincidentally, was last week). I doubt there is few around the globe that hasn’t heard of Sturgis, and no, that’s one rally I didn’t go to (just a little too nutsy for me), although that is me on my Kawi in the background of the blog banner getting ready to pull off the road.

An Obvious Fact-Book Blurb:

In the 12th novel in the New York Times best-selling Longmire series, Walt, Henry, and Vic discover much more than they bargained for when they are called in to investigate a hit-and-run accident near Devils Tower involving a young motorcyclist.

In the midst of the largest motorcycle rally in the world, a young biker is run off the road and ends up in critical condition. When Sheriff Walt Longmire and his good friend, Henry Standing Bear, are called to Hulett, Wyoming – the nearest town to America’s first national monument, Devils Tower – to investigate, things start getting complicated. As competing biker gangs; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; a military-grade vehicle donated to the tiny local police force by a wealthy entrepreneur; and Lola, the real-life femme fatale and namesake for Henry’s ’59 Thunderbird (and, by extension, Walt’s granddaughter) come into play, it rapidly becomes clear that there is more to get to the bottom of at this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally than a bike accident. After all, in the words of Arthur Conan Doyle, whose Adventures of Sherlock Holmes the Bear won’t stop quoting, “There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”.

Audiobook

An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson a Longmire Mystery

This is Book 12, so while the protagonist or his major support characters are not wholly fleshed, they don’t need to be—they are whittled out of casual remarks, innuendo, description. Walt Longmire is the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. The wild west. Two other main characters, Henry Standing Bear (Native American) and Vic (Victoria Moretti), his (female) deputy—a Philadelphia transplant. Walt is often accompanied by Dog, (of dubious parentage) who needs no further description. Walt’s daughter is not notably featured in this episode.

Walt received a call from another county about a motorcyclist run off the road near Devil’s Tower and his mother shows up to ask again for Walt’s help. The mother is Lola, the mother for whom Henry named his classic T-Bird. Yes, it’s “the” Lola.

Unsurprisingly, it won’t be a simple hit-and-run and while the young man languishes in the hospital not expected to recover, Walt soon discovers bad-ass motorcycle gangs and multitudes of despicable conspiracies.

I love the scenes, so beautifully laid out you can smell the landscape, and the banter between Walt and (Henry Standing) Bear and his undersheriff, who by the way, is a great deal more profane than she appears on Netflix. Also appreciated the motorcycle lingo; been awhile since I’ve participated. Almost non-stop action, the multi-plotted storyline getting more complex with fast-turning pages. I love the tidbits of knowledge about the area, the people and culture and in this case, of course, motorcycles.

The narrator, George Guidall, did one heckava outstanding job creating a down-to-earth narrative and understated conversational quality to the written words. He wasn’t just reading it. He made it come alive. It’s drugs, money, and mayhem and I can’t wait to tear into the next episode that becomes available. 4.5/5 stars

Netflix Longmire Series

Walt Longmire of the Netflix series by Craig JohnsonI loved this series of the modern Western crime scene. The TV drama series began on A&E but was picked up by Netflix and developed by John Coveny and Hunt Baldwin somewhere around the fourth season. It ran for six seasons and is still streaming on Netflix after the sixth season ended in 2017. Popular? Oh, yes…what is not to love?

Despite amazing viewership numbers, A&E felt that the demographic was primarily older Americans—the horror of it all! Thanks to a huge fan uproar (think Star Wars), it was picked up by Netflix.

The cast is perfect: Australian Robert Taylor as Walt, Katee Sackhoff as Vic, and American Filipino Lou Diamond Phillips as Henry. Also, it was filmed in New Mexico (not Wyoming). While it doesn’t follow each book of Johnson’s series per se, there is crime fiction we’ve come to expect including bank robberies, murder investigations, and prominently featured conflicts with the local Cheyenne Indian reservation.

The series became so popular they began a yearly July festival in Buffalo (WY). (Absaroka County is fictional), according to Wide Open Country.

If there was a revival, Season 7, I’d be tuning in. Hollywood version Americana but well written and immensely engaging and entertaining. 5 enthusiastic stars

Overall Impression

I don’t think you can go wrong with either the Netflix series and that outstanding cast, gripping installments, and immersive episodes or the books. (Of course, I’m among that older demographic that had A&E dumping it.) While the audiobooks, the character Vic being more profane, might alienate a few of that older demographic, the descriptive storyline, natural and often humorous dialogue, and the narrator’s excellent delivery make it a winner. I’m a solid fan looking for my next audiobook. Wholly recommended.

Rosepoint Publishing recommended

Book Details:

Genre: Native American Literature, Western Fiction
Publisher: Recorded Books
ASIN: B01K23ZXCE
Listening Length: 7 hrs 50 min
Narrator: George Guidall
Publication Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: An Obvious Fact [Amazon]
 

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Craig Johnson - authorThe Author: Craig Johnson is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve Walt Longmire mystery novels, which are the basis for Longmire, the hit Netflix original drama. The Cold Dish won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/Bibliobs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813, and Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award Winner and the Mountains & Plains Book of the Year. The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and Junkyard Dogs won The Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick. Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies, which won the Rocky for the best crime novel typifying the western United States. A Serpent’s Tooth opened as a New York Times bestseller as did Any Other Name and Wait for Signs, Johnson’s collection of short stories. Spirit of Steamboat was selected by the State Library as the inaugural One Book Wyoming and included visits to sixty-three libraries. Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.

George Guidall - audiobook narratorThe Narrator: George Guidall is a prolific audiobook narrator and theatre actor. As of November 2014, he had recorded over 1,270 audiobooks, which was believed to be the record at the time. Wikipedia

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