The Whistling Season (2006)

by Ivan Doig
The Whistling Season is told mostly in flashback by Paul Milliron, Montana superintendent of schools, who looks back on his seventh grade in 1909 in a one-room school. Paul was the oldest of three boys who had lost their mother just the year before. Juggling single parenthood with farming, Oliver, their father, decides to hire a housekeeper.

“Can’t cook but doesn’t bite” was Rose Llewellyn’s winning plug for the position. The beguiling Rose arrives in Marias Coulee with an unexpected companion, her scholarly, eccentric brother Morrie. Morrie gets a job, too, when the schoolteacher runs off with an itinerant preacher. Even though he’s never taught, Morrie is brilliantly inventive in the classroom.

The Whistling Season is both a personal story about Rose’s and Morrie’s huge effects on the Milliron family and a paean to the lost and missed rural schoolhouses that not only educated children but served as centerpieces of the community. Now in his 60s, Paul dreads announcing that Montana’s remaining one-room schools are closing.

Ivan Doig, a product of rural Montana, knew of what he wrote. The Whistling Season will appeal to readers who want a warm story, likable characters, clear prose, nostalgia, and humor.


Home               My reviews               My friends' reviews