The Wartime Midwives (Wartime Midwives Series)

Written by Daisy Styles
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

‘We came in shame to a home for women and babies, to give birth hidden away from society’.

1939, and single girls giving birth was still something to be avoided.  Society, and even their own parents, simply didn’t want to know, and the girls were often turned out of their homes to fend for themselves.  And so it was that a group of such girls found themselves at Mary Vale, a mother and baby home in Lancashire attached to a nearby convent.  Fifteen-year-old Shirley, Emily, a waitress in a Lyons Corner House in Manchester, Nancy, Maggie, Isla, Emily and Daphne were all residents at Mary Vale and about to give birth.  Only Gloria was different; she was married with a five-year-old son, but her husband had volunteered for the Army at the outbreak of WWII and she and Robin, her son, had evacuated out of London to the north of England and found themselves at Mary Vale. The novel goes on to tell of their lives there and the various problems they found.

This is a very sympathetic story.  The characters, all of different ages and from different backgrounds, are well drawn, and the contrast between the nursing sisters and the matron and her staff is well defined.  At the very beginning of World War Two, the Phoney War as it came to be called, life is uncertain, and this is well portrayed too.  There are many books written these days set in one of the two global wars and a large proportion of them concern nursing in one way or another, but this one touches on a subject that is not often talked about, and I felt that the author managed it very well.  I enjoyed it and hope that our readers will as well.