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Work Song (Morrie Morgan #2)

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  1,745 ratings  ·  388 reviews
An award-winning and beloved novelist of the American West spins the further adventures of a favorite character, in one of his richest historical settings yet.

"If America was a melting pot, Butte would be its boiling point," observes Morrie Morgan, the itinerant teacher, walking encyclopedia, and inveterate charmer last seen leaving a one-room schoolhouse in Marias Coule
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 29th 2010 by Riverhead Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Mr. Doig is a true talent. I love what he does with words.

This little narrative of the "further adventures" of Morrie (The Whistling Season) had me from the second sentence: "The depot agent, an individual so slow I thought I might have to draw a line on the floor to see him move..."

Morrie is such a fun character - as were the other ones populating this book. The pictures remain vivid in my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book - and it is so refreshing to read something so involving, ye
IF you love cozy mysteries, read this. It is extremely cute. You will love it.

I have realized that I should stop trying to like what so many others like and just accept who I am. My two star rating ONLY reflects my personal reaction and is in no way a criticism of the book. The book is very, very good for those who want a cozy mystery with fun characters, a bit of erudition and some love thrown in too.
Courtney Oppel
As a long-time fan of Ivan Doig's books, I was rather disappointed in this tome, and honestly don't even recall whether I finished it. His earlier books--even as recent as the beautifully written Prairie Nocturne and The Whistling Season--are works of a master, with wonderful characters, believable dialogue, and a story line that keeps you wanting to read more after the book is done. But in Work Song his characters have devolved into people who love to hear themselves talk, and whose dialogue ex ...more
It’s natural to compare Doig’s Work Song to the earlier The Whistling Season just because both feature Morrie Morgan as the bigger-than-life protagonist. OK. I absolutely savored Doig’s The Whistling Season (and I highly recommend it), but I wasn’t as disappointed as some with Work Song. In fact, I found it quite entertaining.

Erudite, wildly clever, with a brain that holds an encyclopedia’s worth of information, Morrie narrates a story reflective of the brilliant mind which serves him so well in
Jim Leffert
This sequel to Doig's wonderful novel, The Whistling Season, is a tasty morsel, a lagniappe rather than a substantial offering. Incongruously, Doig turns a tumultuous chapter in American history--the struggle between workingmen (miners) and big corporations (a mining company, in this instance) into the foundation for a charming, fanciful, semi-comedic romantic tale. Although the period is a bit earlier and the metal is silver, not copper, I highly recommend Big Trouble by J. Anthony Lukas for a ...more
Chris Witkowski
If you loved The Whistling Season, then you'll enjoy Work Song. Set ten years later in 1919, we are once again treated to that delightful, charming, witty, and oh so intelligent Morrie Morgan, who has turned up in the mining town of Butte, Montana with nothing more than a leather satchel and the clothes on his back. Where The Whistling Season was an ode to public education, Work Song sings the praises of the public library system. Doig's descriptions of the fussy librarians, the stately and somb ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Julie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by:
Have you read The Great Brain series, John Dennis Fitzgerald's collection of Western Americana, set in Utah in the late 1800s? The based-loosely-on-the author's-childhood stories are told by young John Fitzgerald and recount the adventures, mishaps, misdemeanors, and rebellions of his precocious older brother, Tom. If you haven't, you are in for a whale of a treat. Although meant for adolescents, adults will appreciate the sophisticated themes Fitzgerald offers up: an Irish Catholic family at cu ...more
I was excited to win this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. This is my third Ivan Doig novel and was surprised to see one of his books in the giveaway list; I'd only seen lesser known authors in the Giveaway section before.

In 1920 in Butte, Montana during a labor strike armed men hired as guards for the Anaconda Copper Co. fired on striking miners killing one miner and wounding several others. Relations between the miner's union and the company had been strained for years before this armed assault.

I was so sad to come to the end of this! I really do love Doig's characters. Something about this one didn't grab me up quite as much as The Whistling Season, but I still enjoyed it very much. I will definitely read any other books Doig writes in the future with any of these same characters. I'll also have to check out some of Doig's other twelve books.

While this book didn't grab me up quite as much, something to do with all the mining details, I think, there were many parts I really loved. Morr
Readers of Doig’s previous novel, The Whistling Season, will immediately recognize Morris Morgan, the quirky, knowledgeable schoolteacher who mentors young Paul until Paul’s father marries Morrie’s “sister,” Rose. After wandering through travels for several years, Morrie finds himself back in Montana, in the small mining town of Butte, Colorado. Morrie’s flamboyant speech carries over into a rich, descriptive narrative, beginning with a lost trunk and the search for lodging and gainful employmen ...more
Cami Putnam
This was a toss up between a 3 and a 4. It was a little slower paced and the character seem to show a lack of emotion for all that he had been through and was experiencing. I did like it though. My dad grew up in Anaconda and he Father was a machinist for the mine so I really enjoyed listening about the area and what it might have been like to live in the town and be a part of that mining life.
I've liked Doig since Dancing at the Rascal Fair, mostly for his research and ability to weave regional history with personal tales. So I guess it's ironic that the historic details in some of his later books are what bug me. It's not that I don't want them -- especially in the case of this book about boomtown-days Butte, they're why I chose to read -- but they're kinda clunky, slipped into the storyline with not a great deal of subtlety. I want Doig to do the library work for me, but I don't wa ...more
The setting is Butte, Montana, 1919, and the copper mining industry is in full swing; the rising labor union and the struggles to improve working conditions for the miners provides the plot for this sequel to The Whistling Season. However, even in this time of harsh conditions, this book is a light and pleasant read. Morrie Morrison is such a delightful character, and Doig's use of language is so eloquent, I love reading his books, meeting his characters, entering their world.
Steven Howes
This book starts off a bit slower than some of the author's earlier works but it turns out to be a wonderful story. It is a sequel to The Whistling Season, one of my favorite books. The story takes place in Butte, Montana in 1919 amid labor strife between miners and the Anaconda Company. Throw in a cantankerous old librarian with a dubious past and the IWW (Wobblies) and the results are a great book. Although this book stands alone, I would recommend reading The Whistling Season first so one can ...more
Ivan Doig goes realistic-small when some readers might want him to go fiction-big in "Work Song." That's far from a crippling approach, though, and this sequel of sorts to the outstanding "The Whistling Season" is a strong novel unless you really wanted him to go for broke.

The narrator here, Morrie Morgan (real name Morgan Lewellyn; yeah, he's got some secrets) was a teacher with a past in "The Whistling Season," a book whose main character was a pupil narrator. Ten years after the events of "Th
I grabbed this audio book off the library shelf to entertain me on my trip up north and back. It did its job. I was entertained, but I doubt if I'd have stuck with it had I been reading it. It's well written, but lacks dramatic intensity and tension. Call me a griper, but I can't get into a romantic Western set in a mining town seething with labor unrest. By the end, I had become exasperated with the windbagging of the narrator and the retreaded stereotypes of the cantankerous cattle rancher (cu ...more
I was excited about reading the second installment of the Morrie Morgan series. I thoroughly enjoyed and loved the first bookThe Whistling Season and was hoping that the story telling magic would be repeated if not just as endearing. I was quite disappointed. The first portion was set up with enough to keep my interest and the mining theme was something that I could relate with because of my own husband's knowledge of mining, though not in copper but gold. I shared portions of the book with him ...more
Sheldon Moss
I'll admit it, I'm not exactly impartial here. It's been years since I've read Doig's DANCING AT THE RASCAL FAIR, ENGLISH CREEK, BUCKING THE SON, and even THE WHISTLING SEASON and those books still stay with me. (I'm almost afraid to reread them because perhaps I won't enjoy them as much or find the stories as moving or impactful. I don't know).

But Doig is also a great writer from a technical standpoint (vivid imagery, skillful synthesis of the elements of plot and character) and all that.

Jenny Stringham
It was fun to read a book narrated by a favorite character in the first book of the series. Ivan Doig's books make for a great read. I also enjoyed reading the history of Butte, Montana entwined through out.
Ivan Doig does it again with a wonderful historic tale of Butte, Montana. Do yourself a favor and read The Whistling Season prior to this book because Work Song is the continuing saga of Morrie Morgan. A jack-of-all trades and still (sort of) on the run this time Morrie engages with a funeral home, the town library, union coal miners, the reappearance of Rabrab (remember her?, two boarding house characters, and his landlady Grace. If you are interested in the historic politics of mining towns yo ...more
Kathleen Payne
I have visited Butte, Montana on a car trip a few years ago. In looking around the town and stopping at few stores, I got the clear impression that this is a town that is proud of it's heritage. Very proud! Then I read Ivan Doig's book "Work Song" and it takes place in Butte Montana during the 1920's and the hey-dey of copper mining with Anaconda Copper Mining Company. The main character showed up from his previous book, "The Whistling Season", and I was just delighted to follow Morrie Morgan's ...more
Patricia Lusher
A friend recommended Ivan Doig so I listened to Work Song on CD. I was not sure how I would like it, since the subject matter is not what I usually listen to or read. But Butte, MT in 1919 becomes a fascinating story with the interesting, fun characters the author has invented. I love the main character, Morrie Morgan. Is anyone really that smart, well-read, clever and a jack-of-all-trades? Perhaps the author is, because the dialogue is witty and the historic setting is interesting, even for a c ...more
Another fine piece of writing from Doig, featuring Morrie Morgan, one of the unforgettable characters from The Whistling Season.

Doig gives the reader another issue about choice, this time involving big business-labor relations, the environmental impacts of mining, and of all things, the 1919 Black Sox scandal.

I love the way Doig writes, and this time, with Morgan as the narrator, his style is a bit more free wheeling than that of Paul Milliron. Morgan is a great character, and I enjoyed every b
True confession time. I've always stayed away from Ivan Doig because his last name made me think his books would be way too smart for me. However, this came highly recommended by a book-reading friend (thanks Ben!) so I requested it from the library and opened the cover with much trepidation.

The verdict? You shouldn't judge an author by his last name. This was a fun story set in Butte Montana just after WWI. It's full of all sorts of rollicking mining town details and has a gratifying plot that
Judith Shadford
What a fabulous story! No tricks, no "literary" devices, only the faintest backstory. Just amazing story-telling from a single point of view and single chronology. Butte, Montana after WWI, the rise of unions and the Wobblies. Morrie arrives sans luggage, sans everything, except an amazing education and considerable vocal skills. The library housing a massive collection of the classics of the world becomes his world. Slowly, believably, Morgan Llewellyn--his real name--finds a place in this town ...more
Doug Canfield
I finished this book thinking, "Art!" Doig's character, Morris Morgan, is so perfectly realized that I found myself thinking and dreaming in "Morrie's" distinctive phrasings and cadences. I couldn't get enough of this character and couldn't put the book down, as a result.

If the plot had been as clever and wonderful as the main character, the book would have been five stars for me, easily. But in the end, others won't quibble over what amounts to a fine point. Spending time with Morrie will be al
I didn't like the book most of the way through and then I ended up liking the ending. I hate when that happens! I almost stopped reading this book because I could hardly stand it.

I felt like the book built up to a really lame climax of the story. To me the climax of the story happened at the last 20 minutes. I felt like there was a lot of side story that could have been left out or summarized. I swore if I heard about breakfast toast and walking into the library one more time I was going to die
Melody Grieves
This isn't my favorite Doig novel, and I started it a few times before I really got into the thick of it. I like the repeat of the character from a former story, I just wasn't getting into the union politics in this one. I took in a trio of young kittens to socialize for adoption and while they were in the stay-in-the-crate stage, I got them used to human company by sitting close by and reading aloud to them. Doig seemed to go over well with them. Maybe it just takes reading a book aloud for a b ...more
Aug 01, 2010 KarenLee rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of great stories.
Recommended to KarenLee by: Goodreads
I won a copy of the ARC on Goodreads First Reads program. And how lucky I was! I thoroughly enjoyed this book, published just this month. If you read The Whistling Season, you will be happy to know that 2 of those characters return; Morrie Morris, the school teacher and one of his students, Rabrab Runyon, both end up in Butte Montana in 1919. He's looking for his fortune and she is engaged to the head of the labor union.

However, this is a stand alone book. You do not need to have read The Whistl
Ivan Doig has penned a second historical novel that features the former school teacher from The Whistling Season. Now using the name Morrie Morris, he arrives by train in the post-WWI copper mining city of Butte, Montana. The railway has lost his travel trunk, and Morrie shortly gains the unwanted attention of a couple of Anaconda Mining Company thugs on the lookout for outside agitators seeking to organize mine workers. Concerned with keeping his family history concealed, Morrie finds employmen ...more
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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.

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Other Books in the Series

Morrie Morgan (3 books)
  • The Whistling Season
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“For as long as there are men and women, some things in life will best be done arm in arm, and strolling in a flower garden is one.” 3 likes
“my stints of employment had been eaten away by the acid of boredom, the drip-by-drip sameness of a job causing my mind to yawn and sneak off elsewhere.” 0 likes
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