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The whistling season
Ivan Doig
Adult Fiction DOIG

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Any writer's work should be judged solely on its own merits, yet in this fine novel by Ivan Doig, one may be forgiven for marveling at the creation of such a work at an advanced stage of this writer's illustrious career. (Wallace Stegner-to whom, as with Doig, landscape was character and event in any story, and particularly Western landscapes-comes to mind with his classic Crossing to Safety.) Like many of Doig's earlier novels, The Whistling Season is set in the past in rural eastern Montana-and addresses that time and place in distinct, uncluttered prose that carries the full enthusiasm of affection and even love-for the landscape, the characters, and the events of the story-without being sentimental or elegiac. The novel is narrated by an aging Montana state superintendent of schools, Paul Milliron, who is charged with deciding the fate of the state's last scattered rural schools, and who, in the hours preceding his meeting to determine those schools' fate, recalls the autumn of 1909, when he was 13 and attending his own one-room school in Marias Coulee. Recently widowed, Paul's father, overwhelmed by the child-rearing duties presented by his three sons, in addition to his challenging farming duties, hires a housekeeper, sight unseen, from a newspaper ad. The housekeeper, Rose, proclaims that she "can't cook but doesn't bite." She turns out to be a beguiling character, and she brings with her a surprise guest-her brother, the scholarly Morris, who, though one of the most bookish characters in recent times, also carries brass knuckles and-not to give away too much plot-somehow knows how to use them. The schoolteacher in Marias Coulee runs away to get married, leaving Morris to step up and take over her job. The verve and inspiration that he, an utter novice to the West, to children and to teaching children, brings to the task is told brilliantly and passionately, and is the core of the book's narrative, with its themes of all the different ways of knowing and learning, at any age. 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. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Doig, a native of Montana, has been celebrating the natural beauty of his state and depicting the pleasures and challenges of frontier life for many years now in books like This House of Sky and English Creek. Here he returns to Montana to deal with these signature themes once again, with very satisfying results. Set in the early 1900s, this novel is a nostalgic, bittersweet story about a widower, his three sons, and the year these boys spend in a one-room country schoolhouse. The novel begins with the father, Oliver, hiring a widowed housekeeper named Rose from Minneapolis (her advertisement reads "Can't Cook but Doesn't Bite"). She arrives with her unconventional brother, Morrie, in tow. Morrie is something of a scholar, and he soon finds himself pressed into service as a replacement teacher. During the course of the novel, these intriguing and unpredictable characters come together in surprising and uplifting ways. This is an affectionate, heartwarming tale that also celebrates a vanished way of life and laments its passing. Recommended for all libraries.-Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Oliver Milliron
Struggling to raise his three boys.

Paul Milliron
Oliver's eldest son; becomes the state superintendent of schools.

Rose Llewellyn
Brings her brother wherever she goes.

Morrie Llewellyn
Rose's brother; becomes the one-room schoolhouse's teacher.

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