Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mrs. Mike

This wasn't on my list of scheduled reads but while I was in a bookstore last month to purchase a book for a Christmas exchange, I saw Mrs. Mike on the shelves and felt compelled to buy this much beloved book.

I'm often asked what my favorite book is. I always answer that I don't have one; there are many books I love but they are too different to say one is superior to another.

I have changed my mind. Mrs. Mike is my favorite book.

A coming of age story set in the Canadian North in the year 1907, Katherine Mary O'Fallon, a young woman of 16, goes to live with her uncle somewhere north of Calgary as treatment for her pleurisy. There she meets Sergeant Mike Flannigan, a Mountie who has "eyes so blue she could swim in them." They are eventually married after a brief (but fantastically romantic) courtship and she follows him by dog sled to the arctic wilderness to live among the fur traders and Indians.

I love this book for many reasons. Most importantly, as a book, it's my first love. Mrs. Mike was the book that made me realized how much a book could move and stick with me for years. I rarely re-read a book, but I believe I've read Mrs. Mike five times now. Each time, my stomach swoons when Kathy and Mike fall in love, I laugh when Kathy covers her daughter and Mike spanks Kathy instead, I cry when the unimaginable happens and I sigh as I close the book, thinking the line at the very end is one of the best ever written.

Another reason I love this book is that it's based on a real woman's life who the authors met before writing the book. I'm sure it's juiced from the reality, but even the skeleton of the story is moving.

I can't claim that it's the best written book. It is simple in structure, dialogue and description, but as I've read more and more over the years, and compare it to other literature, I believe the style matches the story perfectly.

It's the kind of book I can't help but promise that anyone who reads it will love it. But I also know that with our diverse personalities and preferences, it wouldn't be true. Like a biased mother who adores her baby, I don't think I'd enjoy anyone pointing out the flaws of this book. Perhaps its eyes are too close together and the head oddly-shaped, but it's my baby, and I think it's the most beautiful thing in the world.

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