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The Whistling Season (2006)

by Ivan Doig

Series: Whistling Season (1)

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1,524908,376 (3.94)266
Hired as a housekeeper to work on the early 1900s Montana homestead of widower Oliver Milliron, the irreverent Rose and her brother, Morris, endeavor to educate the widower's sons while witnessing local efforts on a massive irrigation project.
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» See also 266 mentions

English (87)  Spanish (2)  All languages (89)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Very good book. You won't be sorry you read it. The characters are wonderful and the story has some unique turns. ( )
  Jolene.M | Jul 30, 2020 |
Recollections of the year Paul's father hired a housekeeper to come to their farmstead in Montana to take care of the house and the three boys. Rose Llewellyn and her brother Morris Morgan arrive, bringing order and fun to the household, and soon Morrie steps in to teach in the one room schoolhouse. Doig evokes the simple life the kids lead of chores, riding horses to school, visiting the Big Dig where their father is a drayer, classroom competitions and power struggles. Morrie sees that Paul is advanced beyond the other students and soon they're studying Latin together.

But what brought these two to the wilds of Montana? It does seem curious.... ( )
  piemouth | Nov 12, 2019 |
Oh my gosh, what a book! Ivan Doig has a gift for language and imagery that speaks so loudly to my heart and soul. Sentence after sentence, word after word, Ivan Doig drew me into this wonderful story. He has such a gift for engaging the reader and for giving us a realistic picture of what life was like back then. The title is perfect: whistling swans, the whistling wind, and a woman who whistles while she works. Utter perfection! ( )
  Mokihana | Jul 1, 2019 |
This book had a 'Little House on the Prairie' feel that I wanted to appreciate but couldn't, even though It is beautifully written. There were some charmingly quirky, witty moments that I hoped would see me through, but not enough of them by page 70.
  badube | Mar 6, 2019 |
I really enjoyed this book, my first by Doig, It reads as a very breezy historical novel, but it is much deeper than it seems. Rich, fully-realized characters, deceptively simple story lines, and great sense of place make this a pleasurable read. Suitable for almost all ages (and great for boys) it is an adult novel that YA's will enjoy. The one room school scenes reminded me, favorably, of Anne of Green Gables. ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Doig's writerly ambition is less in plotting than evoking, and it is his obvious pleasure to recreate from the ground up — or the sky down — a prior world, a prior way of being. The land and its people — the family, the neighbors — are laid out before us with a fresh, natural openness.
added by lorax | editNew York Times, Sven Birkerts (Jul 2, 2006)
 
Doig has given us yet another memorable tale set in the historical West but contemporary in its themes and universal in its insights into the human heart.
added by lkernagh | editSeattle Times, Tim McNulty (May 26, 2006)
 
Doig has been at this for a long time; he's 67 and the author of eight previous novels and three works of nonfiction, including the memoir This House of Sky. You can see the evidence of that experience in his new novel: its gentle pace, its persistent warmth, its complete freedom from cynicism -- and the confidence to take those risks without winking or apologizing. When a voice as pleasurable as his evokes a lost era, somehow it doesn't seem so lost after all.
added by khuggard | editWashington Post, Ron Charles
 
The saga of how this stranger from Minneapolis and her brother (soon to become the new teacher) change lives in unexpected ways has all the charm of old-school storytelling, from Dickens to Laura Ingalls Wilder. Doig's antique narrative voice, which sometimes jars, feels right at home here, coming from the mouth of the young Paul, who is eagerly learning Latin as he tries to make sense of his ever-enlarging world. An entrancing new chapter in the literature of the West.
added by khuggard | editBooklist
 
.Doig's strengths in this novel are character and language—the latter manifesting itself at a level of old-fashioned high-octane grandeur not seen previously in Doig's novels, and few others': the sheer joy of word choices, phrases, sentences, situations, and character bubbling up and out, as fecund and nurturing as the dryland farmscape the story inhabits is sere and arid. The Whistling Season is a book to pass on to your favorite readers: a story of lives of active choice, lived actively.
added by khuggard | editPublishers Weekly
 
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To Ann and Marshall Nelson

In at the beginning and reliably fantastic all the way
First words
WHEN I VISIT THE BACK CORNERS OF MY LIFE AGAIN AFTER
so long a time, littlest things jump out first.
Quotations
Father had a short, sniffing way of laughing, as if anything funny had to prove it to his nose first.
I had fallen in love with the test sheets. There it was, language in all its intrigues, its riddles and clues. The ins and outs of prefixes and suffixes. The conspirings of syllables. The tics of personality of words met for the first time. Look to the root, Morrie's dictum drummed steadily in me. Almost anywhere I gazed on the exam pages, English rinsed itself off into Latin. Vulpine brought the clever face of a fox into my mind. Corpulent necessarily meant something about a body, likely a fat one. On and on, the cave voices of vocabulary coming to me, and when I had been through every question, I went back over each a couple of times, refining any guesses.
...the individual clutter of each of us...
Damon's sports scrapbooks lay around open when he was working on them and he was always working on them. Over in his nook, Toby had a growing assortment of bones from the buffalo jump we had discovered, secretly hoping, I suspect, that he could accumulate a buffalo. My books already threatened to take over my part of the room and keep on going. Mother's old ones, subscription sets Father had not been able to resist, coverless winnowings from the schoolhouse shelf – whatever cargoes of words I could lay my hands on I gave safe harbor.
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Hired as a housekeeper to work on the early 1900s Montana homestead of widower Oliver Milliron, the irreverent Rose and her brother, Morris, endeavor to educate the widower's sons while witnessing local efforts on a massive irrigation project.

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