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Work Song (Morrie Morgan #2)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  2,030 Ratings  ·  423 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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Jun 29, 2010 Trish rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I was so excited when I won this book from the Good Reads Giveaways, as it was a book I was planning on buying when it came out. I loved the Whistling Season and couldn’t wait to read this follow-up book. Doig is a wonderful writer and storyteller. He really makes you feel like you are in Butte, MT in 1919-the Richest Hill in the world. His story is populated with eccentric and quirky characters like The Earl of Hell, who looks like Santa Claus and is in charge of local public library, Russian F ...more
Mar 01, 2012 Janice rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 24, 2010 Luann rated it really liked it
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
Jul 02, 2010 Alan rated it really liked it
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.

Feb 28, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
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
Mary Lou
Jul 20, 2010 Mary Lou rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, lo-bookgroup
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 23, 2010 Jackie rated it really liked it
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
Steven Howes
Jul 29, 2010 Steven Howes rated it really liked it
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
Clif Hostetler
Oct 03, 2010 Clif Hostetler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Doig crafts his prose with the skill of a poet, and tells his story with the down-home humor of a country yarn spinner. I think the author had a smile on his face when he wrote this book. Also, this is a book that can be read by a Victorian prude and not be embarrassed by explicit sexual content.

Morrie the school teacher from the previous book, The Whistling Season, provides the first person narrative in this story. Ten years have passed during which time Morrie has traveled the world. At the b
Martha Davis
Nov 18, 2010 Martha Davis rated it really liked it
Summery: 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 Coulee, the stage he stole in Ivan Doig’s 2006 The Whistling Season. A decade later, Morrie is back in Montana, as the begu
Feb 11, 2011 Brandon rated it liked it
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
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.
Jim Leffert
Nov 19, 2011 Jim Leffert rated it liked it
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
May 14, 2012 Danielle rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
A conservative three stars. Things I liked about this book:
1) The setting was fantastic. Turn-of-the-century Montana. I loved the juxtaposition of the "modern" mining town (Butte) with the Wild West.
2) The narrator was readable. I didn't love him, but I cared enough to keep reading.
3) The secondary characters were engaging and mostly believable.
4) The plot kept things moving. There was always something happening, which is good, since I would most likely have thrown in the towel early on otherwis
Aug 07, 2014 Sara rated it it was ok
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
Apr 27, 2013 Sagely rated it liked it
I grew up just the other side of the Bridger Mountains from the small towns that figure prominently in Ivan Doig's This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind. If I traveled 90 miles to the west, I'd arrive in Butte, the stage for Doig's novel Work Song.

I deeply enjoyed This House of Sky; I feel that Work Song gets by on the other works coattails, at least in my opinion. Maybe Doig write a better book of non-fiction than fiction. Or maybe Work Song is just a bit of a clunker.

It was the writi
Dec 17, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This book is a wonderful follow-up to "The Whistling Season". Morrie has moved to Butte (a mining town) and he finds a boarding house where he is the third guest of Grace. (The other two boarders are quite comical and knowledgeable.) He gets work as a cryer--the person outwardly mourning at a funeral and sent by the funeral home. He doesn't last long as a cryer before he becomes a librarian at the public library. The book is told in first person but the library director named Sandison is a forme ...more
Chris Witkowski
Dec 12, 2013 Chris Witkowski rated it liked it
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
Jan 15, 2014 Jan rated it really liked it
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
Courtney Oppel
Mar 02, 2014 Courtney Oppel rated it it was ok
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
Jun 16, 2014 Cornmaven rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
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
Kathleen Payne
Feb 26, 2015 Kathleen Payne rated it really liked it
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
Emma Jane
Jan 02, 2016 Emma Jane rated it it was amazing
WOWZA WOWZA. I am in AWE of Ivan Doig's writing genius. I am in awe of his penchant for coming up with wild, wacky storylines that are so unbelievably far-fetched they actually make sense.

This is such a weird book.

So was The Whistling Season, the first book in this series which I read last year. That one caught me way off-guard; a year later, I was prepared to jump back into the world of Morrie Morgan and witness more of his far-fetched adventures.

Work Song was not quite as monumental or eng
Cami Putnam
Jun 05, 2015 Cami Putnam rated it really liked it
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.
Jenny Stringham
Aug 03, 2015 Jenny Stringham rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 19, 2015 Tim rated it liked it
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
Sep 18, 2016 Liz rated it really liked it
This book has been my solace for the last 10 days. During a busy and extremely stressful time when I wasn’t able to read nearly as much as I’d like, this book was the hot tea, soft pillow, and warm blanket at the end of each day.

Work Song is the second book featuring Morrie Morgan whom I would describe as an eclectic mix of brilliance, humor, and kindness. In other words, he’s extremely entertaining. Upon his arrival in Butte MT, “The Richest Hill on Earth,” he finds himself caught up in circum
Oct 06, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it
No one can spin a tale about a Western town like Doig. You can feel the grittiness of a mining town, the vast blueness of the skies, the diversity of the people who made up the towns, the problems of the people, and their successes. Morris Morgan, the hero teacher of "The Whistling Season", is back in Butte, Montana, He finds a job with the library and the crusty owner, Sandy Sandison, and tries to keep out of trouble. But trouble inevitably finds Morris.

He finds himself casting sides with the i
Martina Zavagno
Oct 23, 2016 Martina Zavagno rated it liked it
Really enjoy Doig's books every now and then. Plots are fairly simple but very human.
I love being taken back in time and imagine life a century ago in one of the most beautiful States I've visited: Montana.
Barb Hansen
Oct 15, 2016 Barb Hansen rated it liked it
I listened to this on cd. The story takes place in Butte Montana during the copper mining boom, when labor was trying to gain rights and were controlled by violence and mistreatment. The main character comes to town and carefully and subtly helps the workers while staying out of the spotlight, as thugs from the east pursue him for debts owed. Doug is masterful at developing characters and atmosphere. It is an interesting story in a time that was difficult for men and women. I like this author a ...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
  • Sweet Thunder

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