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Reading Worth

June 8, 2013
By Cindy Votruba , Marshall Independent

A few months ago I wondered what the fuss was about with "Call the Midwife." One never knows about a book or a person until a show is made about it, and in this case, one on PBS. I had glanced at the cover of the "Call the Midwife" book by Jennifer Worth at a bookstore and told myself, "I should read that sometime." (along with the other books I want to read, of course).

So I checked out the first book in a series of three that Worth wrote about her time as a midwife in London's East End. She told about one of her patients who was having her 25th, yes her 25th child. She only spoke Spanish, but fortunately for Worth, one of the older daughters was able to translate. The interesting thing about the woman, Concita, and her husband was that he didn't understand a word of Spanish, and she didn't know English. Yet the couple was in love. Her 25th child was born but it wasn't an easy birth and it was recommended the child go to the hospital. But Concita insisted the child stay with her, and the baby thrived. Worth also talks about Mary, an Irish girl who runs away from her abusive family only to be forced into prostitution. There's also Molly, who is beaten by her husband and trying to raise three young kids in horrible conditions.

Worth also writes about the Anglican nuns she lived with at Nonnatus House (the fictional name given to her East End training hospital).

When she first wrote about the eccentric Sister Monica Joan, I definitely thought the nun was a little strange, but harmless. Then there were the fellow nurses, including Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne, also known as Chummy. Chummy was a taller (she was 6-foot-2) and formidable woman who came from high society and decided to become a nurse. I had to admire Chummy's tenacity when it came to things, which included learning how to ride a bicycle (it was the mode of transportation the midwives and nuns used to get to their patients). It was a compelling read, and I'm looking forward to reading the next two, "Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse" and "Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End." I guess the books are popular in the library system as I've made one unsuccessful attempt to get the second book through interlibrary loan.

I was able to get the first episode of season 1 of "Call the Midwife" for free on Amazon Instant Video (gotta love free). I would watch a few minutes of that episode here and there, and I finally finished it sometime last week. I was looking for another new movie when I spotted the first season DVD at the library. It was my lucky day as I've been looking to check it out for the last few weeks. And since I found a bit of free time on my hands last weekend, I was able to watch the other five episodes of the season. It was basically a "Call the Midwife" marathon. The perfect actress was found to play Chummy (well in my book anyway). She's a 6-foot-1 British comedienne named Miranda Hart. I just enjoyed her portrayal of the character and the lines Chummy had. That spurred me to look up other shows she's in. Of course several of them are in the UK and not available here, including her self-titled "Miranda." I found some episodes on YouTube that were removed, alas. It's a good show all around, and if you read the books, you definitely recognize the stories Worth wrote. Vanessa Redgrave provides the voice of "older Jenny," looking back at her times in the East End.

So now I've gotten season 2 through Amazon Instant Video. A few nights ago I saw that it was $9.99 for the season. In my excitement at getting it at that price, I accidentally hit the buy button for just the first episode of season 2 and not the entire season. Oops. I bought the season anyways and sent a quick e-mail to Amazon's customer service. I figured if I had to suck it up and take the $1.99 loss, so be it. But the next morning, I got a response saying that I would be reimbursed in the next day or so. But it was faster than that as the amount left on my gift card balance reflected the refund. Yay. Now I just have to find time to watch season 2.



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