I cling to every new word I hear, so as the main protagonist’s character developed, I saw lots of similarities between us.
The story itself is about an intelligent boy named Paul Milliron who lives in Montana in the early 1900’s. His mom has recently passed away leaving his father Oliver struggling to take care of three growing boys, the house, and the farm. After reading a cleverly written newspaper ad, Oliver hires a housekeeper from Minneapolis. Not too long after, in a cloud of mystery, Rose Llewellyn arrives by train with her eccentric, well-educated brother Morris Morgan. And, life on the farm is never quite the same.
As the story develops, the plot starts to twist and turn in unexpected but believable ways. When the teacher at the local one-room schoolhouse leaves her post unexpectedly, the school board is left with few options. But, after some convincing, Morris Morgan steps up and is hired to be the new educator. Personally, I enjoy how “Mr. Morgan” brings a quirky, new vitality to the old school, ruffling feathers, inadvertently angering the local bully, and winning over his students along the way.
Meanwhile, Rose has created a stir in the small farming community of Marias Coulee and won the hearts of the Milliron family. At times, it’s almost as if the Milliron boys have a mother again, but domestic bliss comes to a screeching halt when Rose lets slip a key piece of her mysterious past. Devastated, it’s up to Paul, the oldest, to choose the best path forward and protect his family. As it turns out, this will require all of his “older brother powers” and intellect.
Readers, this book is constantly interesting. Whether the author is telling you about the history and science of a comet, taking you to back in time to 1909, or entertaining you with one of several misadventures, you just can’t stop reading. The characters are truly intriguing, the descriptions make you feel like you’re actually there, and the tale is overall realistic and captivating. Somehow, Ivan Doig, the author, finds a way to throw a backwards horse race, Halley’s comet, a one-room schoolhouse, and a fixed prizefight into one astounding narrative.
This is a wonderful, family-friendly work of historical fiction, and I highly recommend it!
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig. Mariner Books, 2007. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!