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Whistling Season, a Novel by Ivan Doig

Whistling Season, a Novel (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Ivan Doig

Series: Whistling Season (1)

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1,575928,671 (3.94)269
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.
Title:Whistling Season, a Novel
Authors:Ivan Doig
Info:Harcourt (2006), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig (2006)


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English (89)  Spanish (2)  All languages (91)
Showing 1-5 of 89 (next | show all)
My first Ivan Doig book, but likely not my last. Although it took me an unusually long time to read this due to various life circumstances, I always looked forward to picking it up and rejoining the Milliron family in Montana. Narrator and oldest son, Paul, is a steady companion and insightful guide to a time and place I knew little about. And the points that Doig makes through him about education, and its always precarious footing in society, hold true today. ( )
  CaitlinMcC | Jul 11, 2021 |
Thirteen year old Paul Milliron is the narrator of this charming novel set in the “Wild West,” nineteenth century Montana. Paul’s father, a widower with three young and mischievous sons, is desperate to find a housekeeper for his unconventional family, and ends up placing a newspaper ad, which is answered by a woman named Rose Llewellyn, who claims that she “can’t cook, but doesn’t bite.” She arrives, young and brilliant (but can’t cook), with her brother Morris in tow. The boys quickly take to both Rose and Morris, and when the town schoolteacher elopes, Morris is somehow elected to become the new schoolteacher. Paul, an excellent student who is rarely challenged in the classroom, is both delighted and nervous when Morris turns out to be a treasure trove of eclectic information, which he sets out to share with the conservative community of Marias Coulee.

This is a wonderful, non-traditional look at the old west. Paul is an observant and descriptive narrator; he picks up on things going on within his family, as well as factors at play between fellow students and others in the community. Paul’s description of a fellow student, a bully at school but a cowering, dead-end trapper when confronted with his father, is particularly heart-wrenching. Though the ending is rather cliched, it is still overall an excellent work of historical fiction. Those who look back at “Little House” books as their favourites will definitely enjoy this one. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
Does anyone remember the television show called The Waltons that ran in the 70's and early 80's? That is what this book was for me. Yes, there are minor challenges, minor conflicts, but nothing of significance. I enjoyed the characters and life in a small western town, but it was just never going to grab my attention the way Kent Haruf or Wallace Stegner do. I would consider reading something else by Ivan Doig, but only if I heard that it was significantly different in certain ways from The Whistling Season. ( )
  afkendrick | Oct 24, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 89 (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
so long a time, littlest things jump out first.
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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