With the passing some years ago of Wallace Stegner, Ivan Doig is probably the writer who now most personifies the West. English Creek, Dancing at the ..Show More »Rascal Fair, and Ride with me Mariah Montana are among my favorites. It was with great enthusiasm that I began to read his latest, The Whistling Season. It was for that reason, perhaps, that I was initially disappointed. It had the tone of a juvenile book, at first. There's nothing wrong with that—I write juvenile fiction myself. But this seemed just a note off from where it belonged.
True, the book is about a juvenile, through his reminiscence 50 years hence. There was something that did not ring true. I don't know if I got over it, or if the book improved. More likely I was picking something up in the narration that wasn't just right.
Ultimately, the book is not a disappointment, though not his best work. Early on you could see the happy ending rolling toward you like a train in the distance: recently widowed farmer with three boys sends for a housekeeper on the basis of a cryptic ad. Surprise, surprise, she's quite good looking. The real surprise is that she brings her brother with her. He turns out to be much more than we expect, and in many ways is the center of the book.
Much of the novel takes place in a one-room Montana schoolhouse, beginning in 1909. There are several sub-plots that provide the action. The real story is about the kind of education one could get in that kind of setting. A couple of years ago I was privileged to have the opportunity to edit the history of a similar school in Idaho. That kind of grade-spanning education, all but lost today, had much to recommend it.
There is some entertaining wordplay throughout the novel. We come dangerously close to learning a little Latin. In the end, the entire book turns on the definition of a word. A bold step that a lesser writer might not have pulled off. Doig does it with ease.
I read the whistling season a few years back and really liked the book. I liked the writing/prose and the story. I have read a couple of other book..Show More »s Ivan Doig and liked one and hated the other( the eleventh Man ).
Morie was a great character in the whistling season and he is brought back as the main character in this book. He steps off the train and into this book with all his wit, charm and brass knuckles. How could such an educated man be working in a mining town as a undertakers cryer? only Morris Morgan can.
I thing Ivan Doig is a great story teller. He brought the city to life in my mine and it was if I could have been right there and felt the blast of dynamite under the boarding house. When I heard "Ignoramus, I am the librarian!" I knew that Ivan had Created another larger than life character in Samuel S. Sandison. Maybe he will write his story next
I thought the Narrator did a great job. His voice was just right for the book. Good tone and inflection and no grandiose, over the top reading.