I'm sure many of us have been watching Call the Midwife and Birdsong the last couple of Sunday evenings. What wonderful drama for cold winter nights. I haven't read the book on which the first is based but I can't imagine it would be any better than watching the characters' lives unfold, and the way it portrays the awful living conditions in which some people lived.
Although I'm thankful at how much medicine and treatment have moved on, there is something reassuring about the humanity, compassion and capability of those nurses that reminds me of the reason I went into nursing straight from school, many years ago. I only lasted half way though the 3 year training before discovering I dislike hopitals, but at least the whole environment and training was so much more regimented and particular than it seems these days. If anyone is interested in the campaign to make nursing standards higher again, please have a look at Frances Garrood's new blog.
I did read Birdsong when it first came out, as I was studying the period at the time. I loved the novel, and Sebastian Faulks' writing, although I thought some of the early scenes of passion between Stephen and Isabelle in the book were over written. I did understand the idea behind it, to show the two extremes of passionate love and horrific war. But I thought the TV drama was beautifully filmed and loved the way it took us from the dreadful trenches to the passionate love affair through Stephen's flashbacks.
Much as I adore reading, as a visual person it's a stunningly good drama or film that remains in my mind long after the final credits. Even better when both the book and film are memorable - and novels are certainly better for filling in the little details that have to be missed out in filming. Best of both worlds!