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Dancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan Doig
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Dancing at the Rascal Fair

by Ivan Doig

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6841613,957 (4.16)85

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3.5 stars
Rob Barclay and Angus McCaskill leave Scotland for Montana, where Rob’s uncle Lucas is “a miner.” But what they don’t know is that Lucas’s mine, aptly named the Great Maybe, is no more. In fact, Lucas lost his hands in the explosion and is now a saloonkeeper in a small town, Gros Ventre, with a Native American “housekeeper,” Nancy.

Once they find him, though, nothing will keep the boys from trying to make their fortunes along with Lucas. And he helps stake them. They homestead and begin life as sheep ranchers.

Angus narrates the story, taking us from 1889 to 1919. His love for fellow schoolteacher Anna Ramsey is a central theme, although Anna breaks his heart and Angus eventually marries Rob’s younger sister Adair. She is a good partner for him, if not the passionate love he’s envisioned.

There is some absolutely beautiful writing, and Doig gives us all the emotions of life – laughter, love, grief, despair, anger, jealousy, and happiness.

One thing that did put me off a bit was Angus’s pining over Anna for so long. It reminded me of Scarlett O’Hara mooning over Ashley Wilkes beyond all reason, and without any encouragement. I’d have given the book a full four stars but for that.

I think I’ll read more of his work. I know that my husband would like this book. I think that my brother might appreciate it as well. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 11, 2016 |
This story is like a great river: long and wide and deep. The prose flows beautifully and carries every thought and action with graceful power; you can't help but be swept along. Ready to ditch the river metaphor? Me, too.
If you like Wallace Stegner, you like Doig. If you haven't read either, you're missing out. Theirs are novels that open up a corner of the world, wrap it in music and place it in your hand. Dancing at the Rascal Fair is one of my favorite books. ( )
2 vote SonjaYoerg | Oct 1, 2014 |
An historical fiction which takes place for the most part in Gros Ventre, Montana, this saga follows the fortunes of two young men fresh to America from Scotland in the 1800's. It details the joys and hardships of pioneering in that state with poignancy and heartfelt joy. Angus and Rob have their share of both, although the story is told only from Angus' view.

I enjoyed reading this, although it took me a long time to do so. The words and word pictures are a luxury for a reader. It invites you to stop and ponder, consider and think about the situations and the people. Doig never makes any of his characters too perfect for their own good. He presents them as real people, who grow, stumble and persevere. Sometimes this is painful, you want to shake them by the shoulders; but it is honest and in the end you love them in spite of themselves. Speaking as a person who had pioneering relatives in this era, and knew them as a young girl, it is easy to imagine that this book represents them well. ( )
  MrsLee | Oct 20, 2013 |
I stopped listening to the audio version of this book because although I enjoyed Mr. MacKenzie's accent and reading, I felt I was missing some of the beauty of the writing because I couldn't always understand. I was driving while trying to listen, so my concentration was elsewhere. I think I would enjoy listening to this after I've read the book for myself. ( )
  MrsLee | Sep 8, 2013 |
This second volume of the trilolgy about norhern Montana, backs up to the 1880's when Angus MacCaskill and Rob Barclay leave Scotland and come to Montana, where Angus becomes a teacher and falls in love, everlastingly, with another teacher. This is a darker book than the first volume, and covers the time up to 1920, with much trial and agony during the years. I found it compelling reading, and probably more consistently melodramatic than volume one, English Creek. It caps off with a mighty struggle against fierce Montana weather. Angus is the grandfather of Jick, the prime character in English Creek. I presume the final volume will tell of Jick's father, though we learned much about him in English Creek. Anyway, I will have to read the final book in the trilogy. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Jun 6, 2013 |
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Epigraph
Scotchmen and coyotes was the only ones that could live in the Basin, and pretty damn soom the coyotes starved out. -Charles Campbell Doig (1901-71)
Dedication
For Vernon Cattensen, who saw the patterns on the land
First words
To say the truth, it was not how I expected -- stepping off toward America past a drowned horse.
Quotations
...she had a mind like a magic needle.  It penetrated every book I managed to find for her, and of my bunch in that schoolroom Karen was the one spellbound, as I had been at her age, by those word rainbows called poems.
I was told once I am a great one for yesterdays, and I said back that they have brought us to where we are.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0684831058, Paperback)

The central volume in Ivan Doig's acclaimed Montana trilogy, Dancing at the Rascal Fair is an authentic saga of the American experience at the turn of this century and a passionate, portrayal of the immigrants who dared to try new lives in the imposing Rocky Mountains.

Ivan Doig's supple tale of landseekers unfolds into a fateful contest of the heart between Anna Ramsay and Angus McCaskill, walled apart by their obligations as they and their stormy kith and kin vie to tame the brutal, beautiful Two Medicine country.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Chronicles the American experiences of Angus McCaskill and Rob Barclay, Scottish immigrants, who lived for three decades in Two Medicine Country at the base of the Rocky Mountains.

» see all 2 descriptions

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