July 31, 2012

The Measure of Katie Calloway

Have you ever seen a pair of shoes hanging from a telephone wire?

Well in the 1800's when a logger lost his life on the river, his fellow loggers would hang his boots on a nearby tree so others would know and pay their respects to him.

This is one of the many fascinating things I learnt about loggers and their lives from reading this novel which takes place right after the Civil War has ended.

This is the story of Katie Calloway, an abused woman who flees Georgia with her little brother and finds work in a north woods Michigan lumber camp. Here she finds works as the camp cook.

The harshness of camp life is portrayed well in Katie's everyday routine as cook. Waking hours before the men (2 AM!) to get breakfast ready, to staying up late preparing for the next. I don't think I could have ever done it!

I found this photo online of a logging camp cook shanty. Looks very well organized and clean!



This book was packed with information about life in a logging camp mingled with the people who lived it. There are a few twists and turns that kept it going, as well as new character's added throughout which I loved and felt brought more interest to the story.

The author says here of her inspiration for this book:

"Many years ago, while visiting a museum in Michigan, I saw an old photo of loggers gathered in front of a cook shanty. In the midst of these tough-looking men stood the camp cook - a sweet-faced young woman with her hands folded inside her apron. as my family wandered off, I stood mesmerized by the photo, wondering about the girl, wishing I knew her story, trying to imagine her life. That photo began my love affair with the history of Michigan lumbering and was the kernel from which this story grew."

Here is another picture I found of two female cooks in front of their cook shanty. It's probably not the same picture that inspired the author, Serena Miller, but inspirational non-the-less. Isn't the long horn, they called the loggers into eat, great? It reminds me of when I was little. My mum used to call us in for dinner by ringing a cow bell! :) 


I really enjoyed this novel and learnt a lot about the logger camp life. This was not an easy life. These loggers and cooks worked hard and survived hardships most of us will only read about.

I'm glad I had the opportunity to read about them, and because I live in a house made of wood, I now have a greater appreciation for what they did.





10 comments:

  1. I loved this book! I'm so excited for Serena Miller's new book coming this fall :) Lovely post & review!

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    1. Thanks Faye! I'm looking forward to reading more from her too! :)

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  2. Ooh, ooh, definitely sounds like a must-read!

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    1. I really enjoyed reading this one. :)

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  3. Oh, I really enjoyed this one, too! A great read!

    I love the photos you've included, and Serena's inspiration for writing the book. Such fascinating history!

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    1. I'm curious about the actual photo that inspired the book! It would be neat to see. :)

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  4. Cathy thanks for stopping by my blog, I have read this one you comment on today by Serena and loved all the things I learned about the men in camps like that and the cook. I will read her again..
    Paula O(Kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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    1. I love novels like these, where I learn something new. Thanks for stopping by here too! :)

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Feel free to leave your own thoughts in the comments. I try to respond to all of them by the end of the week. : )

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