Juli's Reviews > Mrs. Mike

Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman
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it was amazing
bookshelves: read-off-my-shelves-2018, keeper-shelf

I remember vividly the first time I read this story about the Canadian wilderness. I was 12 and it was visiting day. Visiting day meant we traveled to spend the day with my bachelor uncle. He lived by himself in a huge old house and firmly believed children in his home should be seen and not heard. There were no kids living nearby. I was not allowed to watch television or listen to music in his home. And the town was so small there was nothing to do. There wasn't even a park. So visiting days were horrible for me. And my parents would not allow me to stay home. It made for a bleak and awful Sunday. But this time, I ventured upstairs in the old creaky house. Uncle had suffered from polio when he was a young boy, and he wore a brace on one leg. He never ventured upstairs. The steps were too steep. With the excuse of going up to dust and refresh the two upstairs bedrooms and bathroom, I escaped up the stairs so there was no way I could accidentally peeve my curmudgeon uncle. In one of the rooms, there was a bookcase. Books! Something to do! I found a couple books by James Herriot I had read before....those would work in a pinch. But then I spied a paperback that looked interesting. Mrs. Mike. It had a picture of a sled dog team on the front. I loved adventure stories with animals, so I grabbed the book and lay down across the old four poster bed. I spent the entire afternoon reading about the life of Mary Katherine O'Fallon Flannigan. Lovely book! Over the years, I have read this story again and again.....and I enjoy it just as much as I did that first time.

The Basics: Mary Katherine O'Fallon is sent to Alberta to live with an uncle at 16. She suffers from pleurisy and doctors say the cold, dry air will be good for her. She meets Mike Flannigan, a mountie, and marries him. They travel North and build a life together, serving natives at Brouard, Lesser Slave Lake and other remote areas in Alberta and British Columbia. Their life is hard at times, but Katherine learns to love Mike, the native people they serve, and the wilderness with all her heart.

The story is told with humor, emotion and realism, and is based on the real life story of Katherine. (The Freedmans did admit that Katherine might have embellished her story somewhat as some of the details could never be corroborated, but it's a delightful story even if portions of it didn't really happen). I have tried several times to look up information about Mary Katherine O'Fallon (Flannigan) or to find photos/information about Mike or Katherine online. But, information is sparse. All I found out is that Mike died in 1944 from a ruptured appendix. Following his death, Katherine came back to the states, remarried and ventured out to California to try to sell her life story as a movie idea. She was directed to the Freedmans for a possible book instead. The book was written and sold quite well. Then the Freedmans sold the movie rights to the book and a film version starring Dick Powell was released in 1949. Katherine attempted to sue the movie studio and the Freedmans for $25,000, but was unsuccessful. She was told she had a contract regarding the book with the Freedmans,but had no rights to money from the film. I would love to see the movie! But I have yet to find a copy or any streaming service that has it. At some point it will pop up online, and I will finally get to see Dick Powell as Mike Flannigan!

A sweet mix of adventure and romance, this is a lovely book! A copy is always on my keeper shelf. The Freedmans wrote two fictional sequels, The Search for Joyful and Kathy Little Bird. I haven't read the sequels yet. I loved the original book because it was based on a true story. The two sequels are fiction. Sequels can be so disappointing, so I have never worked up the courage to read either book. I am striving this year to read more books I have always wanted to read but never found the time.....maybe this year I will take a chance and read the two sequels to Mrs. Mike.

This time, I listened to the audiobook version of Mrs. Mike. Narrated by Kirsten Potter, the audio is just over 11.5 hours. Potter read an even pace, with good inflection. She was wonderful at all the different accents....Irish, French, native and Boston. :) A very enjoyable listen!
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Reading Progress

December 19, 2017 – Shelved
January 1, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 11, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 26, 2018 – Started Reading
June 2, 2018 – Finished Reading
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: read-off-my-shelves-2018
November 29, 2018 – Shelved as: keeper-shelf

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)

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message 1: by Sabine (new) - added it

Sabine Wonderful review Juli. I have to read this book! :)

message 2: by Carol (new)

Carol Sounds like a most charming book. Delightful review.

message 3: by Jeanne (new) - added it

Jeanne Can't believe it! This book has been on my TBR pile for about 15 years, and I just started it a few days ago. Unfortunately, I haven't had much reading time during the school week, but look forward to reading this over the weekend.

Juli I hope you enjoy it Jeanne! I highly recommend it Carol! :) I hope you give it a try Sabine :) It really is a heartfelt, wonderful story!

message 5: by Barbara (last edited Jun 04, 2018 04:31AM) (new)

Barbara Nice review Juli. Great story about visiting your grouchy uncle too. 🙂

message 6: by Liz (new)

Liz A great review and I especially loved the story about your personal history. Thanks heavens there were books for us lonely children!

message 7: by Antoinette (new) - added it

Antoinette Excellent review. I love the memories you shared.

Juli I can't see this book or think of the story without remembering that old house and my curmudgeon uncle.....so I had to include the story with the review. :) Books can definitely carry one away from trying situations. I read a lot more books from that shelf on subsequent visiting days after I had watered all the plants, done the dishes and annoyed my uncle enough.....I would disappear upstairs. Dust, wipe down the windows, check all the rooms....then settle down with White Fang, Call of the Wild, James Herriot or any of the other adventure books I found there. And I was always so much more appreciative of my own home and my friends in the neighborhood when I came home after an entire Sunday of trying to pretend I wasn't there. :)

Juli Jeanne wrote: "Can't believe it! This book has been on my TBR pile for about 15 years, and I just started it a few days ago. Unfortunately, I haven't had much reading time during the school week, but look forward..."

I hope you get a chance to read it Jeanne! It really is a lovely story!!

message 10: by Juli (new) - rated it 5 stars

Juli Liz wrote: "A great review and I especially loved the story about your personal history. Thanks heavens there were books for us lonely children!"

I agree! That shelf of wonderful stories saved my life every Sunday!!

message 11: by Noreen Trotsky (new)

Noreen Trotsky I totally forgot about this book. I read it probably when I was in high school and loved it. Now I want to do a re-read!

message 12: by Joe (new)

Joe Krakovsky Your review and what the book meant to you personally, backed up by your research, is not only informative but entertaining as well. I think we all come across a book once in a while and no matter how great it is or isn't, it will always be special to us. Thanks for sharing.

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