Mrs. Mike is one of those books that I love to re-read every couple of years. This time, I dug it out because my neighbour Elizabeth, who is 18 and in grade 12, has never read it and I feel like it’s the kind of book that every high school girl should read.
My mom gave me my first-ever copy of Mrs. Mike (and the one I still have) when I had to do an individual report on a Canadian book for Grade 11 English in 2001. I’m sure Mr. Liffiton thought I was mildly insane when I teared up during my presentation (I kept it all together, don’t worry), because Mrs. Mike is one of the most moving, sad, funny, heartwarming, lovely books in the world. And best of all, it takes place right here in Canada.
It’s certainly not a new book. My mom remembers reading it as a kid and my old, tattered copy says it was originally published in 1947. It tells the true story of Katherine Mary O’Fallon, a city girl from Boston who travelled to Alberta in 1907 at age 16 to recover from pleurisy. (I had to Google pleurisy. I’m pretty sure that 2001 Kaitlyn had to look it up in an actual dictionary. At any rate, it is an inflammation of the lungs. I’m not sure how an Alberta winter would have helped with that, but I am very glad that Katherine Mary came to Canada, because otherwise, we wouldn’t have this beautiful book.)
Anyway, Katherine meets Sgt. Mike Flannigan of the RCMP, falls head over heels in love with him, and before she knows it, she’s a teenage wife living in one of the harshest and most remote places on earth. It’s a story of survival, bravery, luck and true love, and I love it every single time I read it. I also kind of fall in love with Sgt. Mike a little bit each time I read it too. Just make sure you have a box of Kleenex with you when you do, because it’s a tearjerker.