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).
Montana Leather Crafter -
There are no words in the English language that would do justice to how deeply this story affected me. Ivan Doig is a master of story tellers . The Characters he creates stay with you forever. My brother actually operates a cattle ranch in the North Fork country today. One of the most beautiful but unforgiving places on earth. I have spent time there ....so this story all the more meaningful for me. As good as this story is, the narrator with his amazing Scottish brogue, makes it twice as valuable. If I could, I would give this work fifteen stars
Book lover, now learning to listen!
About halfway through the book, maybe a tad more, I decided to quit. The opening of Rascal Fair is wonderful, the writing very good, the descriptions of the journey across the Atlantic first-rate, and then descriptions of the two friends' the discovery and embrace of late 19th century Montana is lovely. As others have suggested in reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, the slow but meaty plot turns into spun sugar, a "Harlequin romance." Somewhere in Doig there's a serious writer. Not in this book.The narration is very good. A relative newcomer to Audible, I've found that the narration can make or break a book but, though Robert Ian McKenzie did a nice job, Rascal Fair is a heavy load.
Enjoying one good listen after the next!
Loved this book because of its pace and the constant drama in the characters' relationships! It had me from the first pages as Angus described the voyage from Scotland to America and the trip on to Montana. (That's in stark contrast to a few other reviewers who claimed that it was "too slow" or had "no drama.")
This is actually the second book in Doig's Trilogy, but I was advised to read it first, to be followed by "English Creek" and "Ride With Me Mariah." If this was any example of what awaits me, I will be hugely rewarded.
The author's descriptions of Montana paint a rich, vast picture for all listeners. Doig's lush words take you alongside Angus and Rob; to the river valleys and high grassy plateaus; into their cramped quarters; nearby as love is born and spurned. You will be rewarded with accounts of how the national parks system and conservation impacted both cattlemen and sheep farmers in Montana in the late 1800's in a very personal manner. You will feel the struggle to build, settle, and tend the land and animals as homesteaders made their way. Moreover, Doig's characters; Angus, Rob, Anna, Adair, Barrick, and others are real people in every sense of the word who struggle with relationships, health, and the things that Mother Nature throws at them.
If you enjoy historical fiction, particularly that focusing on the settlement of immigrants to the western states, you can't miss with this book!
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