Elizabeth's Reviews > Mrs. Mike

Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman
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Jul 24, 09

Read in February, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Wow! This book was listed on a "gentle read" list for Young Adults. What a mistake! Unless they consider it gentle because there are no sex scenes. It is one of the most violent books I have ever read.
The original publication date was 1948 and the book is about a young woman, Kathy, who leaves Boston for northern Canada to fight her illness of pleurisy. She is a tender 16 and marries a Mounty (mounted policeman) who is 20. (My first issue with the book is how young she is when she gets married.)
The territory they live in is uncharted and they are living both easily & uneasily with a neighboring tribe. It is very rugged living and very descriptive about what the pioneers suffered. This book contains references to domestic violence, alcoholism, forest fire, deadly disease, murder, madness, abortion, miscarriage, dangerous animals, lots of death. An example of a memorable scene is when a man's leg is caught in a bear trap and his mother saws off his leg for him.
Sometimes I just had to take a break from this book. The vivid details I'm sure are accurate and perhaps even toned-down! I just was so thrown that this was considered a "gentle read".
The positive aspect would be that Mrs. Mike/Kathy overcomes sorrows and is a strong woman. I had to like that. And I was amazed that she grew to love the wild country. So that was victorious.
Some of the book hasn't aged well with the political correctness that we now adopt. There is use of words such as squaw, half-breed, breed, uncivilized, etc. If I was teaching this book I would really reflect on these words and their context with my students.
There is a lot here and the closing chapter was quite lyrical. I would recommend this to adults or very mature Young Adults.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Dana (last edited Feb 20, 2008 08:07PM) (new)

Dana I read this book first as a freshman(high school), as required reading for English class. The story had made an impact on me and I recently re-read it as an adult. It is a powerful story, yes. The scene where the fire happened and the women and children had to go into the icy river has remained in my mind to this day..."as we ducked under the water and the infant thrashed in my arms, I knew she still lived." That is not word for word, but that was over twenty years ago that I first read that.


message 2: by Ellen (new)

Ellen I read this book every year from age 12 to 18 - it's one of my all time favorite books. I found the love story riveting at that age - the "sense of place" instilled a permanent love of "sense of place" books in me. I recommend this book all the time. But you are right on when you wonder how it fell into a Gentle Read category.


Diana Welsch Wasn't Seargent Mike 27? The age difference bothered me as well.


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