The Sugar Girls’ guide to life after Call the Midwife

With the second series of Call the Midwife coming to an end tonight, we’ll be subject to an agonizing – and appropriate – nine-month wait before our favourite nuns and nurses get back on their bikes for the Christmas special. So if you, like us, are dreading the post-partum depression that will inevitably follow the series finale, here are our suggestions for how to pass the time while you wait for the next delivery.

Before Call the Midwife’s smash success, series writer Heidi Thomas was best known for her adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, but it was an earlier series that really laid the foundation for her writing about the working-class inhabitants of Poplar. Lilies was inspired by her own family history living around the docks of Liverpool in the 1920s. For anyone who loves the heart wrenching family drama of Call the Midwife, the eight-part series is a must.

If you can’t get enough of the 1950s East End, aside from the amazing trilogy of books on which Call the Midwife is based (Call The Midwife, Shadows of The Workhouse and Farewell to The East End, now available in one bumper edition), check out Gilda O’Neil’s fascinating book My East End, which captures the area in the words of those who lived there. And if you want an absorbing tale of a life lived in the shadow of the East End docks, Melanie McGrath’s wonderful book Silvertown – which tells her own grandmother’s story in gripping detail – is hard to beat.

Meanwhile, if you’re after more first-person memoirs of twentieth-century women’s lives, try Angela Patrick’s book The Baby Laundry for Unmarried Mothers, which tells the heartbreaking story of a woman who – like Joan in The Sugar Girls – was forced to have her illegitimate child in a home run by nuns, and to give the baby up for adoption. West End Girls by Barbara Tate (no relation to the sugar manufacturers!) tells of the colourful scenes she witnessed as the maid to a Soho prostitute during the 1940s.

And of course, if you love true stories of life in the East End during the 1950s, do check out The Sugar Girls too. Focusing on Tate & Lyle’s female factory workers in Silvertown, not far from the midwives’ stomping ground of Poplar, it tells true stories of ordinary working-class lives in a thriving industrial area. There’s a fair share of heartache, but plenty of fun and romance too – and if the absence of Call the Midwife has left you with a craving for baby drama, The Sugar Girls features three pregnancies!

And if all that doesn’t keep you busy until we return to Nonnatus House at Christmas, you can always start bingeing on the 900-minute Call the Midwife boxset.