The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig is an adult, historical fiction novel that takes place in the Midwest around the 1900’s.
“Can’t cook but doesn’t bite.” Begins the newspaper ad for an expert housekeeper, with “sound morals, exceptional disposition.” Drawing the attention of a widower and his three boys, so begins the story of a housekeeper and her brother and their journey into the lives of a family that will never be the same.
One-room school houses, dry land farming, comets, bullies, boxing and betting, along with all the ins-and-outs of western living can be found in this gem of a book.
This is probably my third time reading The Whistling Season. I am just so in love with the language and setting Doig manages to snag his readers with. The writing, although not for everyone, is almost fluid and magical in its intricacies of language. For some people this is intimidating and hard to get into, but give it a try because it really is an excellent example of how a simple plot can just blow you away with the written word.
Doig is a master of description. Most of his books, if not all, take place in the Midwest and boy can he just paint a picture for you. For a girl whose never been west of Pennsylvania, I can almost see the setting. This is also a great little book because I think it is about a subject in history that there isn’t much written on, so it was neat to step inside that one-room school house, out on the plains.
I picked this one for my community book club when no one was jumping up to make a suggestion. And for a book that “wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea,” it was probably the longest we have every actually stayed on topic and discussed the book. So that in itself tells you something.
If you haven’t read Ivan Doig, give him a try. He writes, not overly serious books that are so lovingly written and perfectly described. This one will always get 5 stars from me.
That’s all for now!