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Last week, I celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Queen Victoria. Tina tried to like The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan. Jean enjoyed the two memoirs by E. H. Shepard, illustrator of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. Becky loved the historical novel The Gown by Jennifer Robson, that features the making of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding dress in 1947. Georgette Heyer’s mystery Footsteps in the Dark didn’t grab Becky’s attention quite so well.
PBS recently aired the 8th season of Call the Midwife. I managed to watch the episodes in the two-week window that each episode streamed from PBS.org. The DVDs have been published and are likely at your local library. Netflix has the Christmas Special that began Season 8 — eventually, I imagine, they’ll get the rest of the episodes to stream.
As I wrote in my post about binge-watching the first six seasons, I’ve always appreciated the stories of strong women from this series.
Season 8 magnifies that by focusing on women’s rights issues. A thread runs through the whole season about the dangers of back alley abortions with unexpected impacts on the midwives.
In Episode 2, though, we get a glimpse of an earlier struggle for women’s rights. Nurse Lucille fights for an elderly patient who once fought for voting rights for women. Miss Millgrove takes a while to warm up to Lucille.
The phrase “woman of substance” invaded my thoughts in the weeks since I watched this episode — a goal that I strive for.
As a resident of Missouri, one of the states where legislation recently passed that will effectively ban safe abortions, I was deeply moved by the last part of Season 8 of Call the Midwife. Illegal abortions damage women in so many different ways. Here’s what a character from the last episode says to one of the Nonnatus House nurses about the situation in London in 1964:
“Until you girls, with all your training and all your learning, sort something out with the men who make the law, there will be names being whispered, and money changing hands in every back street in England. Because when lives go wrong, they can put them right.”
Have you seen Season 8 yet?