Call the Midwife makes me feel grateful

call_the_midwifeI’ve been watching a BBC show called Call the Midwife which is supposedly all the rage over in the UK and I can definitely see why. It’s about a midwife named Jenny Lee who arrives in a poor East London town in the 1950′s. She lives at Nonnatus House which doubles as midwife HQ and convent. You don’t know much about Jenny’s past but you find out pretty quickly that the grimy streets of poverty-stricken London is not her scene — at least not at first. Together, the nurses and nun-nurses deliver baby after baby after baby in people’s homes.

Watching Call the Midwife has made me very grateful for things we mostly take for granted, namely cellphones, housing regulations and birth control. But not everything is so different. For one, nurses still provide care in people’s home today. I work in the marketing department of an organization that specializes in community nursing — which, these days, is more likely to be about caring for seniors rather than delivering babies.

Medical practices have changed but the basic principles are very much the same. It’s still about nurses visiting homes as strangers and leaving as friends. Nurses that know that most healing takes place outside of a hospital. It’s not all happy endings on Call the Midwife but I’ve seen with my own eyes that community nurses (and personal support workers) still do great work.


Interview with Rita Leganski, author of The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow

bonaventure_rita_leganskiA while back, I reviewed The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow and told you that I loved it so much, I almost didn’t want to tell you about it. That would be silly of course, because great books need to shared.

So you can imagine how excited I was when Rita Leganski agreed to an interview for Broken Penguins! Here’s what Rita had to say about her first novel and on her next project:

BONAVENTUREDescribe the Silence of Bonaventure Arrow in 140 words:

Two months before Bonaventure Arrow is born, his father is murdered by a character known as the Wanderer. When that happens, sorrow takes away unborn Bonaventure’s voice and replaces it with magical hearing. What follows is a tale of heartbreak, guilt, and atonement gone wrong. But then there is healing, brought about by this silent and gifted little boy who shares his name with a mystic-turned-saint.

The story is an exploration of human nature—its guilt, its envy, and its willingness to judge. But it tells as well of our better attributes—compassion, forgiveness, and a willingness to let go. There are a number of universal truths woven into THE SILENCE OF BONAVENTURE ARROW. Some have to do with the darker side of the human experience, while others speak of the very best in humanity; namely, our capacity to love.

Bonaventure takes place in a fictional Louisiana town called Bayou Cymbaline. I’ve noticed that you’re a big Southern lit fan even though you’re from Wisconsin. I’m a big Southern fiction fan too and I’m from Toronto! What attracts you and other “literary snowbirds” to this genre?

While I was growing up in northern Wisconsin, I thought of the South as an enchanted place and of New Orleans as the very embodiment of magic. I suppose it was the thought of all that lushness contrasted with the long northern winters with their vast expanses of snow. Southern literature also tends to revolve around really quirky characters. We literary snowbirds must harbor a liking for peculiarity.

Bonaventure has two very religious grandmothers! Do you consider yourself a religious or spiritual person? How did this influence the novel?

Yes, I would describe myself as religious (I’m a practicing Catholic). Through various characters, I tried to show not only how religion SHOULD influence us, but also how it SHOULD NOT. I integrated Catholicism and hoodoo spirituality in the character of Trinidad Prefontaine in order to reveal that goodness is not confined to one set of beliefs.

Do you believe in magic?

It’s a favorite writing tool of mine, but I don’t really believe in magic. I do, however, believe in divine intervention.

You mentioned on Twitter that it was -50 degrees where you were during the recent cold snap! What did you do during this time? What would Bonaventure and Dancy do?

I spent those frigid days working on the next novel. I drank hot tea and stayed toasty warm in my sweaters and jeans and thick socks and puffy slippers. Bonaventure and Dancy would make the spiciest gumbo they could possibly come up with in an effort to get warm from the inside out.

What’s next for Rita Leganski? Can we look forward to another novel? Please say yes!

I’m working very hard on another novel. Although it’s not a sequel to Bonaventure Arrow, it’s magical realism again but this time a love story. It takes place from 1916 – 1946.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights with us Rita! I look forward to reading your next novel and hopefully, the many more to follow. 



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In My Mailbox: January Edition

This the fourth edition of In My Mailbox, a meme hosted by The Story Siren.

I wasn’t going to buy more books but you see, Chapters had a sale and I just couldn’t resist:


Fobbit ~ David Abrams

About: Paper shufflers, cooks and other military personnel stationed in Iraq who never see front-line action (also called Fobbits).

Life After Life ~ Kate Atkinson
About: A woman named Ursula keeps dying and living and dying and living, repeat, repeat, repeat.




The Midwife of Venice ~ Roberta Rich
About: A Jewish midwife is asked to attend to a Christian woman in labour thereby risking the lives of the entire ghetto population in 16th century Venice.

One Hundred Years of Solitude ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez
About: Not sure actually. I was told that it’s a must-read modern classic for anyone that enjoys magical realism.


Meet Clare Vengel, undercover Toronto cop

I am finally embracing my inner Oprah and giving everyone a FREE BOOK! You get a book! And you get a book! And you! And you! AND YOU!

Mind you, the book is on Wattpad… where all books are free. But it’s a really good free book so you should take me up on my offer.

Vengel_Dead_Politician_SocietyThe book is Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano and it’s part of her Clare Vengel Undercover series. She’s been releasing the book for free on Wattpad one section at a time. The rest of the Clare Vengel series is available on Spano’s site.

Clare Vengel is undercover cop extraordinaire. Well, that’s her dream anyways. Her supervisor considers her so green, he considers speaking to her “babysitting”. In Dead Politician Society, the left-wing Toronto mayor is murdered and a secret society at the University of Toronto is suspect number one. Clare lands her first undercover gig as a poli sci student. Remember, left-wing mayor — so this is pre-Rob Ford.

Spano’s writing is fast and fun — switching between a number of eccentric characters all with their own motives to get rid of the mayor. Clare is reminiscent of Deb from Dexter. She’s a fast talker, self-doubting and occasionally sleeps around. She’s also on an uphill battle to prove herself as a skilled cop. If I have one criticism for Spano is that there should be waaay more about Clare than the rest of the characters.

I was a political science major at the University of Toronto once upon a time so the setting of the book was eerily familiar. I’ve literally taken courses in these buildings Spano describes. Pretty awesome to see the campus come alive in fiction.

So there, go ahead — take home your free copy ;)


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