Dancing at the Rascal Fair by National Book Award nominee Ivan Doig, captures the passion and tenacity of turn-of-the-century immigrants struggling to build new lives amidst Montana’s windswept Rockies. The tale unfolds into a contest of the heart between Anna Ramsay and Angus McCaskill—kept apart by obligations—as they and their stormy kin vie to tame the brutal land.
©1987 Ivan Doig (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC
“Magnificent…Dancing at the Rascal Fair establishes its author in the front ranks of contemporary American writers.” (Seattle Times)
"The settlement of Montana between 1890 and 1919 is recounted through the quiet but compelling life of Angus McCaskill, a young Scotsman who travels with his friend Rob Barclay to Montana's Two Medicine Country to homestead. Doig writes fervently of the voyage from Scotland and the lean first years, as the two share the work and hardship of establishing claims and building up flocks of sheep. He tells of their separate marriages, the severing of their friendship, and the final resolution of their conflict through death. Doig successfully recaptures the violence of the Montana elements and the staunch heritage of the Scottish settlers." (Library Journal)
There wasn't enough drama in this one for me. I kept waiting for something (anything!) to happen. I would suggest listening to a sample before buying.
I have a busy career, travel a lot and don't have much time to read, so I listen to Audio books. I love reading!
This was soooo boring.. I Didn't finish it! Maybe I wasn't in the right place, but I really tried to listen over again a few times, but never got past the third chapter.
Booooorrrrrriiinnnnnggggg. The narrator was good and pleasant to listen to. The story, however, was painful. The author is forever having the characters make the dumbest, unfunny smart-alec remarks to each other - you will just cringe. There was nothing in this story that should have taken so long to tell. Too long, too boring. Skip it.
The book is well-written and held my interest. I'm afraid I got impatient after a while with the protagonist's unrequited/unfulfilled passion, and the ending was rather unsatisfactory. The character got hung up when he was a young man, and never got unstuck, it seems to me. The lack of character arc left the whole story rather flat in the end. However, the depiction of Montana in the days of the settlers was evocative and beautiful, and the book seemed well-researched with regard to how people scraped a living in that harsh environment.
This is not my usual type of book. When I first started listening, I was a bit disappointed by the narrator. Very slow and heavy. The book listens like a memoir of an old man. The presentation adds to the plot but it takes a while to get past the voice and pacing. After a few chapters, my interest was engaged by the detailed descriptions of country (Montana) and historical events. It wasn't until about a third of the way through the book that I began to care about the characters. In the end, the characters and plot were disappointing, but the backdrop of the story is so compelling that it overshadows everything else. I'd recommend this book if you are interested in American history or you like biographies (even though this is fiction).
Long time LibraryThing member. Love to read a variety of books, usually more than one at a time.
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.
Here is my review after reading it in hard copy.
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.
Robert Ian MacKenzie keeps multiple characters cleanly delineated without any 'bleed-through' of one to another.
Ivan Doig's writing is poetic, tough, spare and lush...all at once.
It took a while to get engaged in this story-with the narrators accent, the slow speech...in fact I had to listen to many of the first parts over. Not entirely due to the book, since I like to listen at bedtime. I came to really enjoy the story, the sense of place and the interconnections of the people, livelihoods, traditions and the natural world around them.
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