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Prairie Nocturne (Two Medicine Country #6)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  442 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Prairie Nocturne is the epic saga of two former lovers sired in the pages of Ivan Doig's acclaimed Montana Trilogy. Susan Duff -- the bossy, indomitable schoolgirl with a silver voice from Dancing at the Rascal Fair-- has reached middle age alone, teaching voice lessons to the progeny of Helena's high society. Wesley Williamson, young married heir to the Double W cattle em ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published May 10th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group (first published 2003)
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Jean Carlton
Maybe enjoying Whistling Season so much set a high bar in my expectations for this author but I just could not get into this - the characters, the story line, the writing. None measured up and though I hate to quit on a book I also find that I am more demanding and more particular about how I spend my time these days. I don't feel obligated to finish a book as I used to. I've given this one a good chance in hopes that it will redeem itself but it wasn't' happening by page 100.
The awkward sentenc
Ivan Doig has a way with words. He doesn't say anything straight. Some examples from this book:

"No one even went near 'good morning'."
"A community of pigeons left off in panic."
"The adversary? The other side of the spinning coin of fate."
Ku Klux Klan are "those loonies in their bedsheets".
"Alone isn't spelled the same as lonely."
He had "a high stomach on the style of a pigeon."
Cowboys are those that are "perpetually starved for women".

I like this kind of writing. It is kind of sophisticate, and
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Not the usual kind of stuff I love from Doig, but, except for a few places where it seemed to drag, his usual excellent prose and interesting characters made for great read. Much more relationship oriented than usual, and touching on some very controversial (for its day) subjects. Published in 2010, it shows how far we've come, and how much further we need to go.
The full significance of this novel's evocative title does not become clear until the very closing pages, and that's fitting for a melodrama-historical-romance that holds its cards very close to the chest right up to each turn of the plot. There are in fact several narratives and themes that weave in and around each other, and Doig is careful to balance them artfully so that each new development has an element of the unexpected for the reader.

The texture of Doig's narrative style is richly detai
Prairie Nocturne is a fictional work that spans many years of ranch life in Montana. Susan Duff is a main character who is a singer and singing teacher of children. She is now middle aged and is apparently an older version of the little girl in Doig's most popular work, Dancing At the Rascal Fair. She has brought down the political career of the owner of the huge ranch that borders her family's ranch. She has not seen, Wes, for four years and so she is surprised when one evening he shows up at ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Betsy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like writing, who like the west
Narrator: Scott Sowers (Good narrator. Adds a nice inflection to each individual voice, reads with enough character and liveliness to keep your interest)

I didn't realize this was book 4 of a series (the McCaskill Trilogy - yes, it is book 4 of a trilogy). I also read Dancing at the Rascal Fair, which I didn't realize was book 2.

Doig's style is very slow-moving, but in a comfortable, lyrical way. It reflects early Montana settlement - or at least the way I imagine it to be. The book is as much a
I'm a huge fan of Doig's Montana writings, and this one had some very intersting variations on that theme. And, as always, Doig's use of language (and mastery of dialogue) is stunning. Monty is an outsider due to his skin color, the only black cowhand on the ranch and eventually persecuted by the Klan (who knew they had a history in Montana?!). Susan is also an outsider because of her Scotch refusal to submit to societal mores. But both of their hearts are revealed as longing for what they canno ...more
Damn. I wish there were half stars. This would be a 3 1/2 star. I was captivated by the time period covered, the late ninteenth/early twentieth century. The key elements are intriguing . . . . the primary setting of the novel (Montana), women's issues,racial issues, the tragic Native American shuffle/abuse. The era of The Buffalo Soldiers hits a personal chord for me. Some years past now, every Memorial Day at a nearby old graveyard, Mountain View, in Altadena CA. a few remaining Buffalo Soldier ...more
This isn't my favorite from Doig. The characters are a somewhat broadly-drawn, which is heightened by the presence of a few characters from earlier, better novels.
A bit different for Doig - more like a 3.5 as some of his old familiar family lines are drawn in and caught up with.
Oct 13, 2010 Timmothy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone.
Doig has mixed reviews with me but after a few pages I knew this was one of his better ones. Excellent writing with good conversation, skillful use of flashbacks that add to the story, suspense, great description and sense of place and time, good continuity with Dancing at the Rascal Fair and good character development with some little twists you don't see coming. Well researched and exellent use of history blending into the story. (I learned several things that I both should or were unlike to h ...more
Doig is right up there on the top tier of my favorite writers. I'll be returning to his books for quite a while. His descriptions are unique, not a cliche in the whole book. His metaphors and similies are so beautiful that I read many of them out loud to my husband. Beautiful writing, interesting plots.
Well-written western prose tackling a couple of tough situations in the years after WW1
Just couldn't finish it, didn't keep my attention.
I always enjoy how Doig creates such an all encompassing sense of place. His poetic language forces you to slow down and absorb the pioneer frontier. However, I wasn't so into this story line. I felt like the characters were lacking in depth. I wasn't sure of what their motivations were, and was totally surprised by how they ended up acting in the end. I definitely enjoyed the Montana Trilogy stories better, especially English Creek.
Sara Latta

I listened to the audio version of this book. Given the importance of song to the narrative, the musical interpretation of the reader(Scott Sower) was critical. I thought he did a fine job with the different voices, and I really liked his singing voice, although it wasn't as good as I'd imagine Monty's to be. Now I'd like to go back and read his Montana trilogy, in which the characters of Susan and Wes were introduced.
I liked it, but it wasn't quite the page turner that his other books were for me. It was nice to meet some familiar characters again though, as well as some new ones. Doig addresses the issue of racial prejudice and the KKK in Montana in the 20's. I had not been aware of the Klan's strength in the west until we saw an exhibit at the Colorado History Museum last summer. Part of our history we don't hear much about.
I am a sucker for a happy ending but other readers will have to discover whether or not this novel's conclusion qualifies as happy. My second reading of this story found it much more impressive - interesting how authors improve without re-writing. Doig loves language and uses it to express both the profound and the mundane. A good plot - not entirely transparent. I enjoy characters with some prickliness.
Susan Greiner
Ivan Doig is an excellent writer. I enjoy his prose and his attention to historical detail. I found the point of view interesting in this book. I haven't read any other books lately written in omniscient viewpoint where the narrator switches from one character's head to another's within the same scene. Anyway, it is a beautifully written story about racial conflict and love. I enjoyed it.
Ivan Doig takes some of the characters from his trilogy into the early 1920s, and challenges them by introducing a likable African-American ranch hand with a determination to improve his singing. In rural Montana this means lessons with a white vocal coach, and much of the novel revolves around how he and those helping him deal with the attacks and racial tensions he encounters.
Years ago, I tried to read an Ivan Doig book and failed. After about half of the book, I put it down and thought he was an author I just wasn't interested in. However, this book was a choice of one of my book group members, so I had to read it. I found that it was a good story - based on actual true events and characters. Maybe I'll attempt another one of his books.
This story which takes some characters that had bit parts in other McCaskill books was a great way to continue to be involved with the story lines. In this book, Ivan Doig manages to add in the problems faced by Monty, the only black man at a large cattle ranch and the Ku Klux Klan. I enjoyed Doig's story as well as the history that he adds into it.
A story set in Montana during the days of cowboys and copper barons, it gives an interesting look in to the relationships between some unique characters and insight into the racism that was a part of that era. Briefly, a spinster music teacher gives singing lessons to a black cowboy and he ends up in Harlem as a major musical talent.
Another homerun by Doig. This guy has got it! I have now read all his work and he is one of the best authors I have had the pleasure "Kicking back with". In my opinion That is what does it for me. I can really get lost in his books, and thats what reading fiction is all about for me. Get one of his books and start today!!!
Whether it was the rest of my life interfering, or whether this one's less evenly written than The Whistling Season, I didn't find it quite as engaging, or at least not consistently. That said, I would recommend it. The story is a novel one, I enjoy the historical basis, and Doig's language is often amazing.
Doig, novelist of the American west also included the Harlem Renaissance, racial issues, and music as themes in this intriguing account. I may have liked the book better had I read the "Dancing at the Rascal Fair" first since the book seems to presuppose knowledge of two of the central triumvirate of characters.
I liked Whistling Season so well that I picked up this earlier book. It was a dud. I finished it, but I didn't care about the story, and neither the prose nor the craft was enough to make it worthwhile. Whether it was the dud or the gem that was unusual, I don't know, but I don't believe I'll try any more.
I seem to be reading Doig backwards, i.e. his slowly unfolding history of Montana from most recent to oldest books so that the characters I encounter I kind of know where they'll end up, but it's great fun meeting them at their beginnings. Excdept I love this one almost as much as Work Song, and Whistling Season.
Lovely name for a book. It had the same lyrical, beautiful style as The Whistling Season, but far less seemed to be happening. Perhaps because Doig wasn't quite as comfortable with his setting here. I was disappointed it wasn't up to the standard of the Whistling Season and didn't finish it.
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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

Two Medicine Country (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • English Creek
  • Dancing at the Rascal Fair
  • Ride With Me, Mariah Montana
  • Bucking the Sun
  • Mountain Time
  • The Whistling Season
  • The Eleventh Man
  • Work Song
  • The Bartender's Tale
  • Sweet Thunder
The Whistling Season Dancing at the Rascal Fair This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind The Bartender's Tale English Creek

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