Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig

Title: The Whistling Season
Author: Ivan Doig
Enjoyment Rating: 7/10
Referral: Picked it up cheap on Audible
Source: Audible for iTunes
Books I've read this year: 147

I read my first Ivan Doig book (Dancing at the Rascal Fair) earlier this year and I was completely charmed by it. I love that Doig just tells stories and doesn't concern himself with being avant-garde in any way. In The Whistling Season, Doig tells the story of a widower (Oliver Milleron) and his three sons (Peter, the narrator, Damon, and Toby), living on a dry farm on Montana, who have been wanting for clean sheets and a good meal since their mother died a year ago. Oliver decides to hire a housekeeper, Rose Llewellyn.

Okay, so if you're like me, you say to yourself, young widower, young widow, they have to get married, right? For the next 300 pages, that's not what happens at all. Rose shows up with her brother, and the families have lots of everyday Montana adventures as Rose's brother Morrie takes over as the teacher at the one-room school. The adventures are delightful, and as 60 year-old state administrator Paul contemplates closing the one-room schools where he and his brothers were educated, there are some wonderful moments of rumination. Pretty soon I had forgotten all about Rose and Oliver getting together. 

And then (spoiler alert!) it happens. The romance almost seems to come out of left field. And then what happens after that, the secret which brought Rose and Morrie to Montana in the first place, which I won't detail here, seems to come right out of left field (the sports metaphor works because Damon is a sports nut, just trust me). Although I enjoyed that something was (finally?) happening in the book, the first 300 pages didn't prepare me for the last 50 pages. I guess life is like that sometimes, but I don't usually expect good fiction to be.

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