Along with Downton Abbey, one of my favorite British period dramas is Call The Midwife. It takes place in late 1950s and early 1960’s Britain in the poverty stricken district of London’s east end. The midwives and nuns are based at Nonnatus House, an Anglican nursing convent. The show deals with concerns of the time relating to pregnancy such as abortion, incest and the effects of the drug Thalidomide but also with the characters’ personal lives including faith, friendships, dating and marriage. Some of the episodes are heartbreaking since bad things do happen but many are joyous in the celebration of life, love and relationships. The television show is based on a series of books by a real life midwife Jennifer Worth. If you like the television show, try the books!
Fans of Downton Abbey in North America have now seen the penultimate episode of this series about the lives and loves of the Crawley family and their servants. Only the last episode is left and then the series will be completely over. I watched the season 6 Christmas special in December through streaming from England so I already know what’s going to happen but I plan to watch it again when it airs here. For those who haven’t seen it yet, some questions remaining are will Edith and her Marquess get back together? Will Tom find love again? Will Isobel choose Lord Merton or Dr. Clarkson or neither of them? Will Anna deliver her baby safely? Will Daisy leave service? Will Baxter and Molesley get together romantically? What will happen to Thomas? All these questions will be answered, more or less, but – spoiler alert – like in real life not all characters will get a straightforward resolution.
While it will be strange to have no new episodes to look forward to there will still be sites on which to discuss the series, fanfiction to read and the episodes on DVD to watch again and again.
Fantasy literature lost a great author when Terry Pratchett died in March. Pratchett is best known for his Discworld books which take place on a disc resting on the backs of four giant elephants, all supported by a giant turtle who swims its way through space. The world is populated by not only humans but orcs, trolls, vampires, witches, dwarfs, and other mystical creatures and it’s a place where magic works. Many of the books parody real world civilizations such as Australia, Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt, also other things like universities, rock and roll music, film making and newspaper publishing. His books are not only clever but humorous.
Pratchett’s last book, part of the Discworld series, The Shepherd’s Crown, has just been published. It’s part of the Tiffany Aching subseries about Tiffany who is an aspiring witch and it’s a fitting conclusion to both the Tiffany series and the Discworld universe as a whole. For any fantasy fans who haven’t yet tried Pratchett’s books I definitely recommend them.