Jim Leffert's Reviews > Work Song

Work Song by Ivan Doig
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Nov 19, 2011

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Read in November, 2011

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 less nostalgic historical account.

The story takes place in Butte, Montana in 1919. Whistling Season's protagonist, Morrie Morgan, returns to Montana after 12 years in hope of making his fortune in this bustling copper mining city. Instead, he finds a roof over his head at Grace Faraday's boarding house, employment at a funeral parlor and subsequently, the public library, and pressure to take sides in a nasty battle between the Anaconda Mining Company and the unionized workers. Not since Pajama Game has a labor-management dispute served as the basis for a confection like this. No doubt, readers' heartbeats will accelerate as they approach the denouement that will answer the question, "Will the union succeed in coming up with a song to rally their members?"

Enough said. Light entertainment about a heavy time by a charming author.

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