The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When widowed Montana farmer Oliver Milliron looks for a housekeeper, he's drawn to an advertisement which states the applicant, Rose Llewellyn, "can't cook, but doesn't bite." She's hired, and arrives in the small Montana settlement of Marias Coulee with her brother Morris. The story covers autumn 1909 to spring 1910, and is narrated by Paul Milliron, Oliver's eldest son. The Llewellyns settle into life on the prairie, though it is clear that the life is foreign to them. Morrie becomes the schoolmaster of the one room schoolhouse where Paul represents one half of the 7th grade. Morrie teaches with passion and creativity despite his lack of credentials, and captures the attention of his students with his stories and astronomy lessons centered on Hally's Comet which arrives in 1910. This is a delightful story, providing a picturesque account of life on the frontier. Paul's voice is authentic, and often humorous, as he tells the story of this pivotal year in his life through flashbacks. The lessons he learns with Morrie follow him to adulthood and help him make a difficult decision. The writing is terrific too, evoking the harsh environment and its beauty. I was really sorry that I finished the book!
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