Book Review: The Whistling Season

Book Review: The Whistling Season


[/media-credit] Ivan Doig published sixteen book before passing away on April 9, 2015

Ivan Doig published his eleventh novel, The Whistling Season, in 2006. It was named a New York Times bestseller the same year.

This Western fiction is set in the small town of Marias Coulee, Montana, in the early 1900s. It is narrated by 13 year-old Paul Milliron, one of the three sons of a widower named Oliver Milliron. Through a newspaper advertisement, the father hired a housekeeper named Rose Llewllyn. Rose’s brother, Morris Morgan, moves with her.

The story focuses on Morris when he is hired to teach in the nearby one-room schoolhouse. His extensive scholarly knowledge and ability to tell stories held the attention of even the rowdiest students, including the Milliron children. As the story unravels, Paul and the readers discover more about Morris’s dark past.

While The Whistling Season loosely fits the bill of a coming-of-age story, it also explores how families deal with grief and the extent to which people are defined by their past mistakes.

My Opinion

When my brother suggested that I read The Whistling Season, I was skeptical. The cover looked boring compared to the fantasy books I normally read. However, I was pleasantly surprised.

With rich vocabulary and well-developed characters, this book was captivating despite minimal action. Lasting 345 pages, the novel is long enough to become invested in characters, but not too long to lose interest.

I have one major critique for this novel. The plot, especially in the beginning, is slow moving. The chapters do not seem to connect at first, but this is redeemed by the finale of the story, where the storylines are tied together in a surprise twist.

I would recommend this title even if you do not normally read books in this genre. In my opinion, the homely, western feel in The Whistling Season makes it a universally enjoyable book.

Other works by Ivan Doig include Last Bus to Wisdom and Work Song.

For more book reviews, read Book Review: A Princess of Mars and Book Review: Indianapolis.

For more articles, read Anatomy and Physiology Dissects Pig Brain and COLUMN: L.E.A.D. via answer.

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  • N

    Natalie MunozMay 26, 2021 at 12:00 pm

    Well, I completely agree! Ivan Doug is an American master, often overlooked. As for your one critique, I think the beginning gets less slow with age as it ressembles mid-life more accurately than teen life! I’m glad you enjoyed it nonetheless.

  • S

    Scott FalkMay 18, 2021 at 9:56 am

    I’m a big fan of Ivan Doig. Well done.

  • B

    Bryce FosheeMay 5, 2021 at 8:57 am

    Nice review on one of my favorite books!

  • R

    RobertMay 3, 2021 at 12:15 pm

    Great job on the review!!