The Whistling Season

The Whistling Season

Book - 2006
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Novelist Ivan Doig revisits the American west in the early twentieth century, bringing to life the eccentric individuals and idiosyncratic institutions that made it thrive.

"Can't cook but doesn't bite." So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition" that draws the attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. That unforgettable season deposits the ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch--a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom. When the schoolmarm runs off with an itinerant preacher, Morris is pressed into service, setting the stage for the "several kinds of education"--none of them of the textbook variety--Morris and Rose will bring to Oliver, his three sons, and the rambunctious students in the region's one-room schoolhouse. A paean to a way of life that has long since vanished, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best.

Publisher: Orlando : Harcourt, c2006.
ISBN: 9780156031646
Characteristics: 345 p. ;,24 cm.


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Apr 07, 2016

A little slow getting started but an engaging story after it hit its stride.

I find Doig to oftentimes write a line that makes me stop and think, "Wow...what a way with words!"

Aug 31, 2015

This is a thoroughly nice story, with bits of darkness thrown in to counterbalance any too too niceness. Doig has written an homage to the one room school and the sometimes remarkable teachers who took them on. Frontier Montana figures front and centre in the story of Paul, his brothers Damen and Tobie, his father Oliver, their housekeeper Rose and her brother Morrie the schoolteacher. The reader is right there experiencing the cold of winter days as the boys ride their horses to school, the excitement of a good meal on Sundays, and the rough and tumble of the schoolyard. A bit nostalgic but also a recognition that country schools are an endangered species. While the now adult Paul reminisces about the time Rose and Morrie came to them, his position with the school district is forcing him to make serious decisions.

mindonfire May 01, 2015

What a beautiful, poignant book. This is Doig at his best. The landscape is as much a character as the people and the people are fascinating.

Jul 30, 2013

I have read many of Ivan Doig's books and this one was no disappointment. He is an amazing storyteller and the way he crafts his stories is lovely. This is not a book that you can't put down, but rather one that draws you in, invites you to sit down and enjoy the story, the language and the characters. What a treasure Ivan Doig is.

Aug 23, 2012

This was my first Ivan Doig book. It was a nice clean read with nothing really dark or ominous. It was refreshing. I will certainly read more of his books.

Jul 27, 2007

While many sayings come to mind when you think of this title, one sticks in my mind most clearly: whistling girls and cackling hens both come to bad ends. When Paul's mother dies his family start to come apart at the seams. What they need, Paul's dad decides, is a housekeeper. So he answers a newspaper ad and Rose, a great whistler, comes to Montana to straighten things up. The only thing is she can't cook and she has brought her brother with her! What starts out as a great misfortune becomes a great friendship. Paul and his brothers find a great friend and teacher in the well spoken and well read Morrie. But it is Paul who is suspicious of Morrie's past and as he sniffs it out he comes closer to the truth that might break up his family in the end. Meanwhile, a much older Paul must make a decision about the country schools that he loves so much. Well drawn schoolyard exploits as well as the characters that inhabit this book make this a book that you will want to take your time reading.

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Mar 10, 2011


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