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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

“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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

New Favorite

The books starts off slow. However you will be richly rewarded with a powerful and passionate story if you stay with it. This book entices the reader with paragraph after paragraph of poetic prose. Then, the author grabs your attention with a spellbinding story that has all of the elements that make you want to begin reading and never stop. His beloved Montana comes to life such that you can hear the constant wind, feel the biting cold, taste the dust of the dry years, smell the sheep pens at shearing time, and see the vast expanses of prarie fading into the impossibly rugged mountains. This book grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

What an Enchanting Story!

Thoroughly enjoyed this book written in the voice of a young Scottish immigrant who grows throughout this book in the realities of manhood in a rugged land. A coworker who was born and raised as the son of a Montana sheep herding family originally from Scotland said this book portrayed the true reality of that life style. This writer is among his favorites. The poetic prose of the writer coupled with his touching story makes this book one of my favorites also.

18 of 20 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't judge this book by the first few hours

I started listening to this book and thought my iPod was set on "slower." With gigantic spaces between words and the narration barely creeping along, I nearly chucked it. But, I kept listening and by hour 3 was so engaged in the story, I couldn't put it down. I ended up loving the pace of the slower narration and how it contributed to the characters. It's an absolutely wonderful book. Don't give up on it. You'll be richly rewarded with a story and some vivid characters who will stay with you.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Gorgeous, Rich and Vast

Gorgeous in its visuals, rich in its characters, and vast in its depiction of Montana's history. Doig's writing is so unique and wise, I was swept up and never let down, didn't want to be put down, until the sumptuous end. I'll be listening to this again, guaranteed.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

my favorite of this year!

I love the narration of "MacRobert" here! My first experience with Ivan Doig's work. Will put the rest of his work into my "Wish List." This is a wealth of Scottish culture and history, as well as a wonderful view into the early settling of Montana. I'll listen to this multiple times, just to enjoy every detail to the fullest.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I Really Tried...

Many of the reviewers said if you could just get through the first part, you would be riveted. I tried, I really tried. I made it to about chapter nine and then I gave up.

I love Scottish history especially after reading and listening to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, but this was so slow, so ponderous of a narrator with nothing much happening and lots of interest in sheep, that I just gave up.

I do understand others' enjoyment of this novel, and usually I also enjoy a slowly unfolding story, but this was really, really slow for me.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall


I kept with this book for a long time but nothing happened. Apart from wanting to know who he ended up marrying it was as slow as a montana winter. After about 10 hours I just couldnt take one more minute of it and turned it off. The descriptions of the place are lovely but that just couldnt cut it.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Thoroughly Enjoyable

Many reviews have complained that this book is slow. I think it just depends on the reader's preferences. If you are the type of person that enjoys historical fiction, picturesque landscapes, and deep character development, then I'm confident you will love this book. Robert Ian MacKenzie does a phenomenal job of bringing these Scottish immigrants to life in beautiful dialect. The story flows well, and the characters are brought to life in an endearing way. I thought it was thoroughly enjoyable and was not disappointed in the least - was actually sorry it ended. If, however, you like a fast-paced thriller, perhaps this is not the book for you. If you have any personal connection to Montana, the early pioneering days in the Northwest, or the plight of Scottish immigrants, you will find the book fascinating. I highly recommend it!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Beautifully written book!

Truly a beautifully written book that will make the simpliest things become lavishly described events. The scenery is vivid and the characters are alive. The story encompasses the emigration of two late teenage Scots to Montana, their journey, their homesteading, their friendship through decades and their families. Rob and Angus are great characters. You will be planted with these folks in the hills of the Rockies near Two Medicine and in Scot Heaven. Clearly sacrifices are made for duty and for love...and lots of stubborn temperaments. The narration is done flawlessly. This is a graceful book filled with history and eloquence. It is also a story that comes full circle which I appreciated.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I Loved This Book

This is a low-key, kind of slow-moving (in a good way) book, but it is a well-written, engaging story of human life. Despite its length, I was sorry when it was over. My only complaint was that I found the sort of Gone-With-The-Wind ongoing "love" story a bit overblown but that is a very minor complaint. This was a very good listen and I highly recommend it.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • sarahmoose2000
  • 04-19-10

Scots Whahey

Another hidden gem here, not having had any interest in history, audible has further boosted my learning with this tale of two fellow Scots moving to Montana.

We learn of their heartbreaking battles with the climate and the demands of mother nature on body and mind. Your dreamy picture of a sunny Montana is harshly sullied by the bleak depictions of the winters. A real eyeopener, you'll love it and its characters.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful