My reaching screeched to an everlasting STOP over the break, just when I thought it might pick up. Oh wells. I finally kick-started with it the fabulous Call the Midwife, the book upon which the PBS series is based. Here's my thoughts:
Like most of the reviewers for Call the Midwife, I picked up the book having seen and loved the PBS television series. I wanted to know more about the world these ladies inhabited, hoping some of the stories would be illuminated with details. What I got was so much more than just a litany of births in the 1950s.
Worth is a good storyteller, and the book features many of the incidents seen (and in a few cases, embellished) in the series. I fell in love all over again with the Sisters of Nonnatus, especially Sister Monica Joan, whose exploits are often explained away due to her age (but she's still a sly one!). Life in the convent is at times stifling but mostly friendly and supportive, and the friendships formed go far beyond professional bounds. In this regard, the book really shines much more fully than the tv series; we get to understand why Jenny felt as she did about the Sisters and how their quiet fortitude leads her to her own religious awakening (which is done tastefully and not centrally). But it is the personal stories of the women giving birth that stand out, including Conchita, mother of 25, and poor young Mary, tricked, used, and abused and finally the ultimate victim of betrayal. These women's lives are woven into the fabric of Worth's career and life through evocative description and realistic situations.
If there is any problem with Call the Midwife, it is that at times Worth over-lingers on a story, stretching it over the course of 3-4 chapters. Personally I would've preferred either longer chapters or more editing in the telling, but this issue is really not worth much in the course of such a well written book. I will be rewatching the series now with a fresher eye, knowing that many of the stories are based in truth. This story rates a solid 4.5 stars and can be highly recommended.