PUBLICATION DATE: OCTOBER 01, 2011
he Civil War has ended, but Katie Calloway is still struggling with battles of her own. Fleeing the ravaged South and an abusive husband, Katie ventures North with her young brother, where she hires on as a cook for a lumber camp deep in the woods of Michigan.
Robert Foster is not quite sure what he is doing when he hires a young widow named Katie Smith to be the cook for his lumber camp. All he knows is that she makes the best apple pie he has ever tasted. Having a good cook brings the best lumbermen to your camp, and Robert needs all the help he can get.
Working in a lumber camp is harder than Katie could ever have imagined, but she is determined to make it work. As camp life gets underway, Katie and Robert find themselves becoming more and more intrigued with each other. But they both have secrets that would get in the way of any kind of relationship.
Set in the rugged yet beautiful north woods of Michigan, The Measure of Katie Calloway, tells the story of a lumber camp in 1867, and that even in this remote place, hope – and love – can be found.
I seem to be reading a lot of books lately that are set in lumber camps in Michigan during the second half of the 1800s. I’m not sure why these novels ended up clustered together, but it has definitely given me greater knowledge and appreciation of the history of America during this time.
One thing I liked about this novel right from the beginning was that it didn’t take long to get into the story. The beginning started right off with Katie having to flee her home, and it just kept going from there without really letting down anywhere throughout the novel. There was always something going on that kept the story moving.
Even though things started off quickly, I still felt as if I was able to get to know Katie and Robert very well as characters. Once all of the people started to come into the camp, I got a bit lost at times with who was who. But later on I was able to settle in and enjoy the many personalities of those who worked in this particular camp.
As I said earlier, I have read several books lately related to lumber camps. This book in particular spent a lot of time describing the goings on in a camp and the work and such. While this is very interesting from a historical standpoint, sometimes the descriptions of the lumber business seemed more like a lesson rather than a plot to the story. It was interesting, but sometimes I felt like I was being given information rather than being told a story.
There were several spots in this book where the spiritual aspect shined through. While I would have liked for the book to have gone into a bit more detail about salvation, the spiritual things that were portrayed were done well. Katie’s prayers during surgery on one of the lumbermen was a moving moment as was the fact that it was so obvious that God had brought Katie to the camp in order to protect her.
There are a lot of deep things that are pursued in this book that I wasn’t expecting when I first started to read it. The issue of slavery was still dividing the country at this time, even though the war was over; Katie was fleeing an abusive husband; the dangers in a lumber camp were very real. All of these things and more led to a well-rounded story overall. At times the book was gritty and intense, but there was still a sense of hope.
Something amusing about this book was that there were so many descriptions of food. Since Katie has to prove herself as a cook, this is to be expected, but sometimes I would get so hungry reading about all the wonderful things that she made!
The ending of this book for some reason seemed a bit contrived, but I still found it satisfying. It was one of those things where I knew where it was going, I wanted it to go there, but the execution was only okay. I like endings that are wrapped up nicely, so I was not disappointed there. Again, I’m not sure why I felt as if everything came out a little too easily in the end, but I still liked it.
The Measure of Katie Calloway ended up being more than I expected – more history, more intensity, and ultimately, more of a happy ending.