Need a good book or a good movie and a good cry?

February is naturally the time for a good romance book, right? This classic, Mrs. Mike, tells the story of “the Boston girl who married a rugged Canadian mountie” (cover). I read it as a young woman, I believe pulling it from the shelf of a woman for whom I babysat (which I did often after her adorable and rambunctious children were finally in bed).

I loved the story then, and I having re-read not too many years ago, loved it again. I set it out on the bookshelf when I was putting out other February books on display at our house. I did not expect my 11-year old to pick it up and read it! (NOTE: This romance is not simply a romance. It has a LOT of real-world content in it written somewhat like the scriptures–where some of it might go over an unintentional reader’s head. It also has quite a bit of language that trappers and gold rush men used. Still, I would not recommend this to an 11 year old.) She had it mostly read before I knew it.

But what do you expect from a child who read the first 200 pages of War and Peace for her book report last month? “Anything is exciting after reading that!” she reported to me this week. LOL.

Based on two real stories

What I didn’t know about Mrs. Mike until today was that it was written by a husband and wife who, in the 1940’s] met “the real Kathy Flannigan, [now] widowed. They were drawn to her story about the restorative power of love because they felt it mirrored their own.

“Mr. Freedman had met and fallen in love with his wife, then Nancy Mars, in 1939. A young actress, she was suffering a serious relapse of childhood rheumatic fever. When Mr. Freedman asked for her hand, her father, a doctor, tried to dissuade him: his daughter was expected to live only a few months more.

“He married her anyway, in 1941. They were married until Mrs. Freedman’s death in 2010” (Margalit Fox, “Benedict Freedman, Author of ‘Mrs. Mike’, dies at 92.” NY Times, 8 March 2012).

Mrs. Mike is such a charming tale of this 16 year old girl who heads by 30-day train ride to Alberta, and then by 2-day horse ride in a cutter with coon skin coats and buffalo robes on, to his ranch. She was the only other white woman in the area for miles around.

What is it like to be in love?

When she meets Mike Flannigan, a Canadian mountie, she is taken back by his good looks but does not appreciate his sense of humor. It makes an impression on her, and later she asks the only other young woman around,

” ‘How do you have to feel about someone, to marry him? I mean, do you think about him all the time and try to remember how he looks and what he’s said…?’ I stopped. Mildred was looking at me in a strange way.

” ‘Are you in love?’ she asked.

” I felt my cheeks getting hot. ‘Of course I’m not in love. Why, I don’t even know what it feels like. That’s why I asked you.’

” ‘Well, you gave a pretty good description of it.’ “

Plenty of adventure

Lest you think this book is all love and gush, it’s not. Plenty of adventure and depictions of the raw realities of living in the west. Hunting, death, injury, swearing (some), Indians. You get a story of a man who froze to death within the first 13 pages. There is a reason it’s a classic and sold millions of copies. It’s chock full of good storytelling, delightful characters, and adventure to keep you turning the pages.

Not in the mood to read?

Here’s a favorite movie of ours that Lane and I watched (again) last weekend.

But be ready with the Kleenex. This is where the good cry comes in.

Again, the story is based on the life of a real person, Beatrix Potter. The movie is named after her: Miss Potter.

You wouldn’t expect a story about the author and illustrator of one of the world’s most famous farm animals to be so compelling, but it is.

I don’t think I should say any more. Don’t want to spoil it!

The scenery is GORGEOUS, of course. I’ve been to the Lake District. Can’t wait to go back someday!

And the casting is so well done. Love the acting. I give this movie two thumbs up! 👍🏻👍🏻

After watching the movie, Lane and I had to take a trip down memory lane… (no pun intended…):

Lane and I visited the Lake District when I was pregnant with Rebecca. His parents were serving a mission in England, and we got to visit some of his favorite childhood memory places, he having lived there for three years while his father served as a mission president. I am pretending to see one of Potter’s characters in the growth here to show our children when we got back.
We stayed in this wonderfully fun hotel where he and his family had stayed on vacation when they lived in England.
The floor was tilted in this hotel. Made me smile!
Getting away is always lovely! And Beatrix Potter’s and William Wordsworth’s homes are great destinations, especially when we got to enjoy the company of Lane’s parents!

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