"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 Morgan, in Marias Coulee along with a stampede of homesteaders drawn by the promise of the Big Ditch-a gargantuan irrigation project intended to make the Montana prairie bloom. When the schoolmarm runs off with an itinerant preacher, Morris is pressed into service, setting the stage for the "several kinds of education"-none of them of the textbook variety-Morris and Rose will bring to Oliver, his three sons, and the rambunctious students in the region's one-room schoolhouse.
A paean to a vanished way of life and the eccentric individuals and idiosyncratic institutions that nourished it, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best.
Praise for The Whistling Season and Ivan Doig
"Doig is in the best sense an old-fashioned novelist: You feel as if you're in the hands of an absolute expert at story-making, a hard-hewn frontier version of Walter Scott or early Dickens. The landscape and characters are vivid, the prose flawless, and like the earlier masters, Doig imbues each scene and his spacious story with deep emotional understanding and a sense of possiblity and personal adventure. The Whistling Season is a book that strives for more than beauty, which it achieves: It reaches for joy."
—O, the Oprah Magazine
"In matters of work and grief, of place and kinship, [Doig] can make you remember with him and sometimes weep."
—Timothy Foote, The New York Times Book Review
Ivan Doig is the author of ten previous books, including the novels Prairie Nocturne and Dancing at the Rascal Fair. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.