Based on the author's experiences as a midwife in the 1950s, Call the Midwife told me more about recent history than anything I'd read before.
Jennifer Worth's job took her to the poorest families in London's East End. Many lived cramped in one damp room in condemmed housing with no running water, one outdoor toilet for several families, no heating, not enough food and no shoes for the children. Now people moan if they haven't got a 42" plasma TV!
It is an eye-opening and compelling read. She deals with prostitutes, a woman who had spent almost 20 years in a workhouse, a woman who gives birth to her 24th child and writes with warmth and humour.
Yet it is not a sentimental read. Jennifer Worth is not blind to the faults of the characters she meets and also understands her own failings.
It is a truly great read.