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The Whistling Season (Morrie Morgan #1)

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  10,952 Ratings  ·  1,851 Reviews
Can't cook but doesn't bite." So begins the newspaper ad offering the services of an "A-1 housekeeper, sound morals, exceptional disposition" that draws the hungry attention of widower Oliver Milliron in the fall of 1909. And so begins the unforgettable season that deposits the noncooking, nonbiting, ever-whistling Rose Llewellyn and her font-of-knowledge brother, Morris M ...more
Hardcover, 345 pages
Published June 1st 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Jess Morrie is the main character of Work Song and Sweet Thunder, so yes.
The Whistling Season by Ivan DoigA River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman MacleanThis House of Sky by Ivan DoigDancing at the Rascal Fair by Ivan DoigEnglish Creek by Ivan Doig
Best Montana Books
1st out of 160 books — 107 voters
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Best Books with Rural Settings
111th out of 874 books — 864 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This was my first Ivan Doig, and it was an unexpected delight. Doig's deliciously droll delivery and richly drawn characters make him the kind of storyteller we all wish for and rarely find. There's something so comforting and lyrical about the subtle repetition of themes and that perfect narrative voice---what Ivan Doig himself calls "the poetry of the vernacular."

The characters in The Whistling Season just pop right off the page. I miss them already. I loved Toby, with his sweet innocence and
Will Byrnes
Apr 23, 2015 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
This is my first venture into Doig’s fiction. He is known as the definitive novelist of Montana, in the same way that Pat Conroy is the writer most associated with South Carolina. In anticipation of visiting Montana later this year (2010), it seemed appropriate to see what Doig had to say about the place. Of course, it might have required a bit of a time machine to step into the world depicted here. Maybe like reading Mary Poppins to get a sense of London.

Brothers Paul, Damon and Toby Milliron
Jul 02, 2007 William rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes you just want a story of simplicity. You want to go to a place that reminds you of things about how you grew up and who you grew up among. You want a more recognizable time, even if the recognition is emotional rather than experiential. Maybe you just want a story that is a little less alienating than the one you find yourself in.

The Whistling Season is a lovely book of this kind of unapologetic simplicity: the issues are of character and growth, the characters are quirky and complex,
Oliver Milliron a widower and his three young sons Paul, Damon and Toby are reading through the morning newspaper when they come across an ad for a position wanted.

Can't Cook But Doesn't Bite

Rose Llewellyn and her brother Morris Morgan arrive in Marias Coulee Montana in 1909 and things will never be the same.

I loved this well written coming of age story set in Marias Coulee, Montana in 1909. If you've never read Ivan Doig before I highly recommend his books.

Jul 07, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. Doig's use of language is thoughtful and clever. Sly, quiet jokes are tucked into the text here and there and if you read too fast, you might read right past a good laugh. The story is composed of a perfect blend of both the joy and trouble that make up life and work out to be joy overall ("I laughed, I cried," as they say, but it's true here!). Doig evokes, as always, what it meant in times past to be part of a community. But this time, he gives hope to all of us rootl ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Amy by: Molly D
Why have I never heard of this author? He is an amazing writer! (I liken him to Wallace Stegner, Leif Enger, Marilynne Robinson.) I thoroughly enjoyed reading this quiet, humorous, intelligent book about homesteaders in Montana in 1910. I love the narrator (a 13-year-old boy-genius). I love the story. I love, love, love the language. I'm going to read Ivan Doig again as soon as possible.
Feb 18, 2008 Renata rated it liked it
Reading this story made me wonder again what are the stories we want to tell about our country's history and the people who settled the west? Doig reminds us that many of the homesteaders were intelligent, inquisitive and adventurous, all willing to work harder than most of us can imagine to live a full life and what we came to call the American dream - to claim land of their own. This novel reminds me of Wallace Stegner in the way the author richly describes the life of the mind of the characte ...more
Sep 12, 2007 megan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The oldest of three brothers growing up in Montana during the early 1900s narrarates this wonderful and joyful story. Paul Milliron's widower father sends for a housekeeper in Minnesota after reading an add that says "Can't Cook; Doesn't Bite" in their local newspaper. The housekeeper, Rose, moves to Montana with her brother Morty and the book really takes off from there. I started reading this book thinking that the tone would be a lot darker but it was actually a really uplifting book--I espec ...more
Oct 27, 2008 Molly rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all-time-faves
Loved, loved this book! I loved the unforgettable characters and his writing was fabulous. I laughed out loud in parts, and I wanted to cry in others. His writing is witty and super descriptive. It wasn't predictable and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

There really isn't much to the plot at times, just a coming-of-age story of a widowed father and his 3 extremely likable sons and their life on a Montana homestead in the early 20th century. It is about their housekeeper they hire and her brother she brin
Mar 28, 2008 Marci rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-fiction
Ivan Doig is a fine, fine writer. In The Whistling Season, he tells the story of a widower living with his three sons on a dry farm in rural eastern Montana. He reads an advertisement for a woman living in the East who would like a housekeeping job and is willing to relocate to Montana. The ad states she doesn't cook, but she also doesn't bite. Rose comes to Montana to be the Millirons housekeeper and brings her brother, Morris, with her. This is a fine set-up for what could have been some prett ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Chrissie rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, usa, education
Now I have finsihed the book - so this first paragraph is written after the following paragraph. The plot has a tremendous surprise at the end. All along you know what is going to happen at the end. You do and you don't, because there is a fun twist. And it all holds together. I thought I knew the characters, but in the end when one in particular surprises you, you realize he threw you a looper but his character remains consistent and very believable and real. So an interesting twist ends the bo ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Kiwi rated it it was amazing
Why didn’t I come across Ivan Doig before? This novel is absolutely beautiful, great writing, full of humor and unforgettable characters, this book is going straight to my favorites shelf.
Jun 04, 2008 Christi rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Christi by: Angela
If you like "A Prairie Home Companion," you will love this book. It's got the same charming, organic, grass roots atmosphere as Garrison Keillor's stories, except that it's set in 1909 Montana instead of Minnesota. (Though there are some Scandinavian families involved.) The narrator remembers the year he was 13, when his recently widowed father hires a housekeeper, sight unseen, from a newspaper ad. She arrives in Montana with her brother Morris, who suddenly finds himself as teacher in the comm ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jul 13, 2009 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This book is one of my all time favorites. It is "poetry of the vernacular". If this story doesn't capture your heart you must be a snobbish city dweller who has no appreciation of America's rural past. The setting is rural Montana in 1909, a one-room grade school, and a family of three young boys and their father still mourning the death of their mother (and wife) the previous year. It takes a skilled writer to turn such a plain setting into one of the most enjoyable, interesting and humorous b ...more
Diamond Cowboy
Apr 14, 2015 Diamond Cowboy rated it it was amazing
In the book "The Whistlineason" Ivan Doig describes the plite of the Montana's public school system of 1957. He uses a dirt farmer's family and their genious son as a backdrop to the story. Ivan Doig shows how a farmer, a school master and a Whistling Woman can make possative changes in the lives of a small town country school children.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Laura Lynch
Apr 05, 2009 Laura Lynch rated it liked it
"The Whistling Season" takes place in the mid-west in the early 1900’s. It is narrated by Paul a seventh grader who attends a one-room school house. His father is a widower and a farmer. The story is their struggle of living off the land and coping with loss. The tale takes a twist with the arrival of Rose the hired housekeeper who can’t cook and her intellectual brother. The two add intrigue to the ordinary lives of the main character and his family. Doig’s style is descriptive and he effective ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Lon rated it really liked it
Having grown up in Montana, I felt a certain duty to read Ivan Doig. I selected "The Whistling Season" based on library availability and hope that this title is representative of his other novels. Doig's writing style and character development have made me a big fan. He turns a beautiful phrase, but does so in an apparently effortless manner that provides richness without excess. Characters initially seem simple but develop into those you know and care about as if they were family.

Jan 10, 2013 Daven rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books
Slowly but surely, I grew to love this novel. It evolved into something different than I anticipated, and certainly something more. Ever encounter one of those stories that lends a certain impression, perhaps that a character and a storyline are going to emerge in a somewhat predictable way? Such was this - I envisioned focus on a budding romance between a homesteading Montana widower (Oliver), circa 1910, and his newly hired and transplanted "housekeeper" (Rose), while his three immensely perso ...more
Amy (mrsAmy#s)
Nov 05, 2009 Amy (mrsAmy#s) rated it liked it
Shelves: 50-in-2009
I had a hard time rating this book, so let me lay out the pros and cons.

Cons: Plot is a little dull compared to some other recent books I've read. I mean, it takes place out in Nowhere, Montana- so there's not a lot going on.

Pros: Perhaps part of the book's appeal is that despite the lack of real excitement, I definitely loved the characters enough that I wanted to keep reading. Which leads me to...

Pro: The characters were awesome. I feel like I know them, and the book wasn't that long. I really
Jul 16, 2010 Luann rated it it was amazing
I find it interesting how often the end of a book will change my feelings for the entire book - sometimes completely reversing the feeling I had while reading the beginning and the middle of the story. I can't decide yet if that's what the ending of The Whistling Season has done for me. It might have brought my 5-star rating down to a four, or it might have made me wish for six stars. I can't tell yet.

About halfway through the book, I wrote this: It makes me think of Sarah, Plain and Tall and T
Lynn G.
Turn of the century Montana, homesteaders, a one room schoolhouse, Halley's Comet, and a wonderfully diverse cast of characters; those are just some of the delights that await the reader of this thoroughly satisfying book.

Ivan Doig does a great job of giving all of his characters dimension. They all felt real and I was able to see them vividly. I cared about them and became wound up in their lives, particularly those of brothers Paul, Damon, and Toby Milliron. Of no less importance to the story
Jan 15, 2015 Petra rated it it was ok
This book came highly recommended by a friend.
This is a sweet, coming of age story set in PrairieTown, Anywhere in 1910. The characters are sweet, the childhood dilemmas & conversations are sweet and sometimes poignant as the youngsters slowly learn about Life, life is slow and simple and peaceful. There's no conflict in this book, which means it lacks an edge of excitement and anticipation.
The ending is disappointing and leaves an unsettled feeling about the situation.
I look forward to my
Dec 11, 2007 Roberta rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Adults nostalgic for their childhoods
There are two stories here that are necessarily entwined - the current story of the adult Paul, school inspector, who has the sad task of informing the Marias Coulee school of its fate and the child Paul who lives through an uncertain time in the history of the same school. Even though the basic story was interesting and the characters were realistic, I had a very hard time staying interested in this book. I had to renew it twice, not because it was such difficult reading, but because I kept fin ...more
Feb 20, 2015 Margaret rated it it was amazing
The Whistling Season felt like stepping back in the bygone days of my own reading history if that makes any sense. I reminisced about my mother and our visits to our little public library scouring for books of similar qualities. I am one not to necessarily care for coming of age books, in fact I usually avoid them but this one was different. It was insightful, witty, clean, intelligent and downright homey. The writing is beautiful and I was reminded of Wendell Berry, Ralph Moody and a little of ...more
Ivan Doig's The Whistling Season is a well-written, charming look into America's past. The lives of the Montana homesteaders and their families come to vivid life within the pages, allowing this reader to lose herself in the beauty of Doig's descriptions. The language Doig uses is artistic, exquisitely illustrating a way of life lost to us many years ago.

There are so many great things about The Whistling Season that I could quite literally write pages about it! The characters in are phenomenally
This is a near-flawless gem of storytelling. It is not a glamorous diamond of dubious origin or a smoky topaz that speaks of distant lands. It is a Yogo sapphire, a native gem of Montana, a stone that speaks of the endless blue of prairie skies, of cornflowers tucked in mountain valleys, of streams running high with wild trout.

Doig's narrator, Paul Milliron, is Montana's Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is the late 1950's and Paul has returned to his hometown in the prairie of central M
Set in 1909-1910 in Marias Coulee, Montana, the feel of this book isn't very far off from the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. Paul Milliron and his brothers Damon and Toby go to school in a one-room schoolhouse. Their mother died last year and their father is one of the last homesteaders when this land was opened. Their father Oliver one day sees a notice in the paper, advertising the services of a housekeeper. Although she claims not to cook, the Millirons believe she can be persuaded otherwise onc ...more
Mar 12, 2010 Rosie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig was another book club pick. I wasn't really looking forward to reading this one, just because I didn't feel like it was up my alley, but I ended up enjoying it for the most part. It did get to the point, about 2/3 of the way through, when I knew a secret would be revealed (he laid the foreshadowing on pretty thick here, I don't think I am spoiling anything), and I just wanted to be done. Overall, it was a pretty enjoyable read centered around a very likable fami ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
Jun 24, 2011 Elizabeth (Alaska) rated it really liked it
This is a quite enjoyable read, but not literature. Doig paints a wonderful picture of the one-room schoolhouse on the prairie and life on a homestead in the Montana east of the Rockies. In fact, the narrator is writing from the perspective of 1957 just after the Sputkik launch and is remembering his childhood in a particular school. As the State Superintendent of Schools, he seems willing to write the eulogy for this education setting.

This was exactly what I needed to be reading just now, but u
Aug 19, 2012 Danny rated it liked it
This was a very hard book to get into...well written but just not a fast moving one. I stuck with it and it did turn to a more grabbing read. I can say that if you love this era and place(the early 1900s in Montanan) and family story's..then this is a good read. It is not so predictable but not so over the top either and for me..that is good. Look at this as a feel good, up and down story of life the way it was...a very good look back to the past, back to where we came from and a look to the fut ...more
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Constant Reader 46 121 Jul 05, 2008 07:42PM  
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Ivan Doig was born in White Sulphur Springs, Montana to a family of homesteaders and ranch hands. After the death of his mother Berneta, on his sixth birthday, he was raised by his father Charles "Charlie" Doig and his grandmother Elizabeth "Bessie" Ringer. After several stints on ranches, they moved to Dupuyer, Pondera County, Montana in the north to herd sheep close to the Rocky Mountain Front.

More about Ivan Doig...

Other Books in the Series

Morrie Morgan (3 books)
  • Work Song
  • Sweet Thunder

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“Childhood is the one story that stands by itself in every soul.” 64 likes
“My books already threatened to take over my part of the room and keep on going . . . whatever cargoes of words I could lay my hands on I gave safe harbor.” 6 likes
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