Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Midwife's Sister

The Midwife's Sister: The Story of Jennifer Worth by her Sister
Christine Lee
Pan Books
Pan Macmillan Publishers
London, England
ISBN: 978-1-4472-8264-8
$ 14.95
341 pages with additional photographs

Christine Lee is the sister of Jennifer Lee Worth who is the author of Call the Midwife series.   Her perspective on their lives is quite different from her sister's viewpoint.
Jennifer is three years older than her sister, Christine.  The two had a close relationship in their early years, relying on each other for companionship. 
While their father was daily working, their mother was not nurturing, and for Christine, Jennifer was her big sister/mother.
Much of the novel regards their childhood, which privileged, was problematic with their mother suffering from a stroke when she arrived home early one day to discover her father with his secretary in their bed.
The girls' lives spun into turmoil as their parents split and their father remarried which eventually causes the sisters to be separated.
Christine states their lives as being middle-class.  However, the girls were sent to boarding school and had servants in the home.  Money did not seem to be a concern.
Although the book is subtitled, The Story of Call the Midwife's Jennifer Lee Worth, the story is as actually more about Christine with most of the pictures about her life and including her art when she met the queen, not about Jennifer.
I also felt that very little was written about her "midwife" time and much about Jennifer's isolation from her sister.
An issue I have with the book was that it was written and published until after her sister's death.   It is not fair to Jennifer to have her life revealed strictly from Christine's perspective.
Besides the misleading title, the book is a reflection of Christine Lee as the little sister of the author and creator of the "Call the Midwife" series.  
The story reads quickly but concentrates more on Christine's marriages, children, and life rather than Jennifer's.
Who would enjoy the book?  
Call the Midwife fans are the obvious audience but would be disappointed in that the relationships are not at all like the series.
People who begin to read the book without the expectation of revealing the Jennifer Lee Worth story can enjoy the story of Christine Lee, artist.

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