Catching up on the new season of Call the Midwife, I was captured by Sister Monica Joan’s compulsion to get her books in order. The Nonnatus House moves to a new location; she is fixated on her boxes of hardbound books, her board and brick shelves. And I watch with abounding empathy. I. get. her.
I snort when she says, “I have put Plato here, next to Mr. Freud, so they can be companions in their ignorance.”
Like Violet, the Dowager Countess of Downton Abbey, Sister Monica Joan gets the best lines. The community of Nonnatus House are patient and proprietary as SMJ toggles between dementia and a sound mind.
In a moment full of poignancy, Sister Monica Joan admits, “Sister, I cannot deny that my memory is in need of — — refreshment.”
Sister Monica Joan: I am not brought down now!
I am well….and filled with purpose.
[Yes, I cheer. Yes! Yes! Yes! Organizing bookshelves is replete with purpose!]
Sister Evangelina: I can see that.
Never been a reader, always a doer.
Books passed me by when I was young.
[It’s not too late, I plead with a character on a TV show.
I know I could find a good book for you to read.]
Sister Monica Joan: Oh, books have been my friends!
I do not intend to forget what they have taught me.
[No, I nod, we can’t forget. Well, we try hard not to forget.]
(I conducted a long and fruitless search for pictures from that scene, and settled on a few screen shots.)
The most economical deal I found ($5.87) on the books (which we—the royal we—must read) is Tales from a Midwife: True Stories of the East End in the 1950s, which binds the three books (992 pages!) by Jennifer Worth about midwifery together. I purchased mine from a UK seller and received it in seven days.
I’m highly interested in Jennifer Worth’s book about end-of-life care.