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The Whistling Season

(Morrie Morgan #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  15,793 ratings  ·  2,471 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 ...more
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Published November 9th 2006 by Recorded Books (first published June 1st 2006)
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Tait Sougstad This House Of Sky is masterfully written and will give you more insight into the state per page than just about anything else you can read.
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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 ·  15,793 ratings  ·  2,471 reviews

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Will Byrnes
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Right out-of-the-gate: this novel had my toes curling, my smile circling itself right around my head, my hands itching to start writing my thoughts down. My word, dear author, how you got me back into a wholesome zone with your wordsmithery.

Paul Milliron. 1952. There was a fire in the sky. It was the year of the Soviet Union and the Sputnik. The Russians in their kettle of gadgetry has sped past the USA into space. Science will be king, elected by panic.

It was also the year that he as
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
Jul 02, 2007 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,
Betsy Robinson
Jul 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After you reach an age where you have enough history to look back on as an elder to your young self, there is a tendency to do so—seeing things from a perspective you could not have known and aware of your limitations at the time. Sometimes my experience doing this is so vivid that I wonder if, in the truth of nonlinear time that physicists posit is real, young me is sensing old me and if this was the whispers I remember hearing as a kid—what I secretly called "my old woman in the sky." Maybe I ...more
May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m always a little sad to turn the final page of a truly enchanting book such as The Whistling Season. Ivan Doig’s charming brand of storytelling is welcoming and unhurried, perfectly timed to capture moments of poignancy and hilarity. Any author that can make me laugh out loud while I’m reading scores pretty darn high on my scale!

This story chronicles a period in our narrator’s life, super-smart twelve year old Paul Milliron, during which he’s forced to grow up a little faster than he would
Connie G
Oliver Milliron, a homesteader in Montana is raising his three sons by himself since the recent death of his wife. Things are getting a bit messy around the farmhouse so he answers an ad for a housekeeper. Rose Llewellyn brings brightness to their lives as she gets the place sparkling clean. She showed up with her brother, a sharp dresser with a huge vocabulary, who becomes the teacher in the one room schoolhouse.

Paul, the oldest son, is the adult narrator looking back to 1909-1910 when he was a
Jul 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
I was charmed by this book when I first started reading it. Something about the story and the nostalgic narrative reminded me a little of To Kill a Mockingbird. But unlike that classic, this book didn't have the depth or a focal point such as the racial inequality in a Southern town and the resulting injustices. Instead, this book had a middle-aged narrator looking back to his childhood in Montana during 1909, in a warm-hearted story about a widowed father and his three sons doing their best to ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Aug 05, 2007 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 ...more
Kiwi Begs2Differ  ✎
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.
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dusty by: Ken Hixenbaugh
Shelves: read-in-2009
In a graduate course a few weeks ago I learned a nifty German word -- bildungsroman -- for the genre of stories about kids going to school and coming of age. Happily, in this review, I can put that word to use: The Whistling Season is a bildungsroman set in rural Montana at the turn of the 20th Century. The narrator is Paul Melliron, the oldest of three sons who have just lost their mother, who retells his story from the future -- from the 1950s, when Sputnik is in orbit and he has gone from ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
I enjoyed reading the book, and found the writing to be very good. But it's the kind of read that, when I'm finished, I know I will never be tempted to reread. Just wasn't that special.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Previous review: The Weather Makers
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Previous library review: Stones for Ibarra Doerr
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Ron Charles
Dec 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ivan Doig writes about a vanished way of life on the Western plains with the kind of irony-free nostalgia that seems downright courageous in these ironic times. A celebration tinged with sadness, his new novel, The Whistling Season , tells a story twice removed from us: It's the late 1950s, and that little Soviet satellite has startled the United States into an educational panic. Paul Milliron, the narrator, is superintendent of the Montana schools, and he's come to Great Falls to make a sad ...more
Julie Christine
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
Dec 09, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, education, fiction
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 ...more
Apr 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Loved the writing and the story. It was a heartwarming beautiful novel but not 5 star for me because it came together a little too pat. I did love reading it and will go on to read more Doig for sure. A great story of a dryland farmer in Montana and his three sons. After the death of their mother a housekeeper is hired and so begins the story. Who she is and how she and her brother change the lives of these first four and also the rest of the town is definitely a story worth reading. Loved most ...more
Steven Walle
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
robin friedman
Dec 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Love Song For Marias Coulee

Ivan Doig's 2006 novel "The Whistling Season" portrays a small rural area in Montana in 1909, late in the homesteading period. Settlers came to Montana lured by free land and the promise of a new life. Doig takes a long, affectionate look at people and places. The primary group of homesteaders in his novel are the Millirons consisting of a husband, wife and two sons who migrated from Manitowoc, Wisconsin where Oliver Milliron was a drayman. After settling in Marias
I never did find the right mood for finishing this nostalgic look-back at a poetic-hearted male writer’s view of rural America’s charming good old days.

None of those characteristics was particularly off-putting here, and I only mean that description with a touch of the irony it seems to carry today, but the story lacked real plot or purpose to hold or carry the warm-hearted intentions and descriptions.

Not a bad read for however long at a time it could my attention.
Mar 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Laura Lynch
"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 ...more
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
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Andy Weston
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ahead of a visit to rural Montana later this summer I ventured on another Doig, having previously enjoyed Last Bus To Wisdom.

The Whistling Season, set in 1910, tells the story of a father and his three young boys living in a small Montana town and trying to deal with the death of his wife. They take in a housekeeper and with her comes her brother. Told in the first person by the oldest boy this is very much a coming of age story. Much of the story is based around the schoolhouse, a typically
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Madison Mega-Mara...: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Whistling Season ... a true gem of a read 1 8 Mar 01, 2012 04:28PM  
Constant Reader 46 131 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.


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