Thursday, 2 December 2010
I fell in love with 'Mike' when I first read it, I guess I was about 12. Gosh. What a man. Tall, blue eyes, handsome and no messing about. He was a Mountie. This was before Monty Python when Mounties became a bit of a joke, along with lumberjacks. His beat covered thousands of square miles of untamed wilderness way back when men were men and women married young and had children. End of. He was priest, doctor, magistrate and horrifyingly - dentist to all his charges. (The scene where he pulls a bad tooth from a man in agony and they both have to drink whisky to fortify themselves may well be one the factors that has me squirming every time in in the dentist chair)
But really, it's a love story. Kathy, a young Irish-American girl is sent to the alarmingly empty spaces of Alberta where she meets Mike. Married almost immediately she sets out to discover life in the wilds of that wild country. Snow and ice for six months of the year. Mosquitoes for the rest. Floods, outbreaks of diphtheria, bears, wolves and 'redskins' are all grist to the mill. And I will never forget the scene of a forest fire where women and children along with cattle and wild forest animals seek sanctuary in the icy river.