Start reading The Whistling Season on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Read for Free
with Kindle Unlimited

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Whistling Season [Kindle Edition]

Ivan Doig
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (379 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $14.95 What's this?
Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $4.96 (33%)
Kindle Unlimited Read this title for free and get unlimited access to over 700,000 titles. Learn More

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $9.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $11.96  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $0.00 Free with Audible trial
Audio, CD --  
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
The story of love in old-age in a small town in the middle of the country. Learn more | See similar books

Book Description

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 made it fertile, The Whistling Season is Ivan Doig at his evocative best.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

[Signature]Reviewed by Rick BassAny writer's work should be judged solely on its own merits, yet in this fine novel by Ivan Doig, one may be forgiven for marveling at the creation of such a work at an advanced stage of this writer's illustrious career. (Wallace Stegner—to whom, as with Doig, landscape was character and event in any story, and particularly Western landscapes—comes to mind with his classic Crossing to Safety.)Like many of Doig's earlier novels, The Whistling Season is set in the past in rural eastern Montana—and addresses that time and place in distinct, uncluttered prose that carries the full enthusiasm of affection and even love—for the landscape, the characters, and the events of the story—without being sentimental or elegiac. The novel is narrated by an aging Montana state superintendent of schools, Paul Milliron, who is charged with deciding the fate of the state's last scattered rural schools, and who, in the hours preceding his meeting to determine those schools' fate, recalls the autumn of 1909, when he was 13 and attending his own one-room school in Marias Coulee.Recently widowed, Paul's father, overwhelmed by the child-rearing duties presented by his three sons, in addition to his challenging farming duties, hires a housekeeper, sight unseen, from a newspaper ad. The housekeeper, Rose, proclaims that she "can't cook but doesn't bite." She turns out to be a beguiling character, and she brings with her a surprise guest—her brother, the scholarly Morris, who, though one of the most bookish characters in recent times, also carries brass knuckles and—not to give away too much plot—somehow knows how to use them.The schoolteacher in Marias Coulee runs away to get married, leaving Morris to step up and take over her job. The verve and inspiration that he, an utter novice to the West, to children and to teaching children, brings to the task is told brilliantly and passionately, and is the core of the book's narrative, with its themes of all the different ways of knowing and learning, at any age.Doig's strengths in this novel are character and language—the latter manifesting itself at a level of old-fashioned high-octane grandeur not seen previously in Doig's novels, and few others': the sheer joy of word choices, phrases, sentences, situations, and character bubbling up and out, as fecund and nurturing as the dryland farmscape the story inhabits is sere and arid. The Whistling Season is a book to pass on to your favorite readers: a story of lives of active choice, lived actively. (June)Rick Bass is the Pushcart and O. Henry award-winning author of more than 20 fiction and nonfiction books. His second novel, The Diezmo, will be published in June.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Ivan Doig, along with Wallace Stegner and A. B. Guthrie, may be the quintessential Western writer. In 10 books of fiction and nonfiction, he has masterfully explored human communities set against a beautiful, if harsh, Montana landscape. The Whistling Season, a coming-of-age story told in flashbacks, thoughtfully evokes a lost time and place. Almost all aspects of this novel impressed the critics—the colorful characters, the emotional resonance, the rich period details, the eloquent prose, and even Morris's lessons on astronomy and ancient history. Only the Oregonian felt this was good, not great, Doig—which still says a lot.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 559 KB
  • Print Length: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003JH8GAC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,671 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
167 of 171 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evocative, poignant and beautifully written! January 10, 2007
The Whistling Season is an homage to a lost way of life, the homesteading prairie farmers and their children who attended a one-room schoolhouse. This story is told from the perspective of Paul, the eldest and most intellectually gifted son of a recently widowed dry-farmer in Montana. Paul is fortunate to have a father who is well-read and supports the life of the mind. Unfortunately Paul is haunted by dreams and nightmares that leave him perpetually exhausted.

Paul's father, Oliver, and his two brothers are devasted by the death of Paul's mother and struggle to keep the household together with the loss of the essential skills of the homemaker. Hiring a housekeeper, Rose, brings not only cleanliness and harmony to the home, but a new schoolteacher to the community. The school teacher is Rose's brother, Morris. Morris' love of learning and theatrical style inspire the children in the tiny schoolhouse. Ultimately the story turns on how these newcomers fit into and transform this little community.

The strengths of this novel are in its vivid portrayal of prairie life, elegant language and poignant plot. Definitely a novel that leaves me wanting to read more of this author!
Was this review helpful to you?
81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Warmth in Montana September 5, 2006
This novel is about a motherless family of three boys and a widower in a very small Montana town in 1910. A housekeeper is hired and her brother tags along from Minneapolis to the frontier. There the story begins.

The best way to describe the book may be to tell what it is not. It is not hokey or a father falling-in-love chic romance. Although the narrator is a teenage boy, it is not a coming of age novel. Although there is shadowing of mystery from the beginning, it is not mystery.

So what is it? It is an ode to the single room school house and education. It is a frank telling of a family's year on the Montana frontier. There are relationships explored between the boy and his family, the teacher, the housekeeper and his school mates - friend and foe.

Paul, the narrator, has to face adversity (beyond the death of his mother) in several different ways while maintaining his place in his small and insular world. His most difficult task, however, is to decide what to do with a secret he learns.

The writing is terrific, although the book got off to a slow start. After the first 70 pages, which seemed choppy, I was worried I had picked a dud. From there on the book was captivating. Paul, and almost all of the characters, were extremely likeable with all their foibles and weaknesses exposed. The one pure "bad" guy was tangential and truly wicked.

This is a great read once it started to get going. Both the story(ies) and the characters (especially Morrie, the reluctant teacher) will stay with the reader. It is entertaining and thought-provoking. Highly recommended.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
"Whistling Season" by Ivan Doig is a deeply affecting coming-of-age novel set in the dry Montana prairie of 1910. The story is told through the memories of Paul Milliron looking back to one important year in his childhood, when he was 13. The book begins in 1950 when Paul, now Montana State Superintendent of Public Instruction, travels to his hometown of Marias Coulee with the unpleasant task of closing its one and only one-room schoolhouse. He gazes up at the night sky watching Sputnik blink across the stars and knows that a new era has arrived. He is heartbroken because this new era will wipe out all that has come before. There will be no going back.

Doig knows this territory well--it is his own ancestral roots. He has researched it thoroughly and published other successful fiction and nonfiction books set in this period and place. While reading this book, I felt transported back in time--the landscape, the people, the very dust that covered everything--came alive on the page. So do the characters--the singular, bizarre, and clarion-clear characters of the Old West--Doig is, indeed, a master at creating wonderfully authentic people that you really care about.

The story is poignant. Young Paul and his two younger brothers are experiencing the first year of grief following the death of their mother. Oliver Milliron, their father, is understandably overwhelmed with the task of being father, mother, and homesteader. Through the distant Minneapolis newspaper, he sees an ad by a housekeeper. In this manner, the ever-whistling, beautiful Rose Llewellyn comes into their life. She arrives unexpectedly with her brother, Morris Morgan, an eccentric, walking encyclopedia. Events unfold that push Morris toward becoming the town's schoolmaster.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I didn't want it to end! May 30, 2006
The Whistling Season by Ivan Doig is a beautiful novel, with rich and delicious prose, and characters that are detailed, complex and fully developed. I dreaded reaching the final page, wanting to spend more time with Paul Milliron, his family, Rose, Morris, and the community.

Paul Milliron is the Montana state superintendent of schools in the 1950s. It is his job to determine the fate of the few rural schools that are still in use. As he returns to his home, he reminisces about the year 1909, when he was thirteen and attended a one-room school in Marias Coulee.

In 1909 Paul's father, recently widowed and caring for his three sons, hires a housekeeper from Minnesota. The housekeeper's ad in the Westwater Gazette read, Can't Cook But Doesn't Bite.

The housekeeper, Rose Llewellyn, arrives in Montana with her brother, Morris. She's already received several months advance on her salary and immediately begins to organize the Milliron's home and quietly insert herself in their lives. But as she said in her ad, she doesn't cook.

When the local schoolteacher leaves to marry an evangelist, Morris accepts, for the rest of the school year, her job. His arrival impacts the Milliron children and their schoolmate's education in ways no one expected.

I expected Rose to be the focal point of the novel, but in many ways, Morris' personality took center stage. His relationship with Paul continually broadened the young man's life and education. There are several interesting twists and turns that were unexpected and contributed to the charm of Doig's novel.

Armchair Interviews says: The Whistling Season is a wonderful and satisfying read.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfectly written story
Great characters. An intriguing story line. More than a few surprises. The writing is clearly delivered by a pro.
Published 7 days ago by joyfulintaos
4.0 out of 5 stars Good character development by author helped me get a vivid ...
Good character development by author helped me get a vivid picture of the characters. Enjoyed reading about the one room schoolhouse since I am a retired teacher and Morrie... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Debbie D
5.0 out of 5 stars Ivan Doig
Ivan Doig is a great American author! I'm so sad that he recently died; a great loss to literature...
Published 11 days ago by Irene H. Peters
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Received in a timely manner. As described.
Published 12 days ago by Deborah
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a good book. It took me several chapters to get ...
It was a good book. It took me several chapters to get into it and then I could't put it down. The ending was nothing I expected
Published 15 days ago by Carra L. Wall
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A really good read, -smart ,funny, touching, suspenseful, insightful - highly recommmended
Published 16 days ago by mitzi w bollinger
2.0 out of 5 stars whistle. On...
Whistle on.... down the book least! this book was not a kindle unlimited and as most know some from the "unlimited" it can be hit and miss . Read more
Published 16 days ago by alice Coe
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Book 1 of 3. Sometimes the book can move somewhat slow, but then the story keeps me wanting more.
Published 19 days ago by Keely Jorgensen
5.0 out of 5 stars as always, a treat
I have read a number of Doig's books, and thoroughly enjoy his style, his ways of imaginatively describing things. The whistling season continues to add to that enjoyment.
Published 20 days ago by Mrs. K. Nilsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it!
One of his better books about life in Montana.
Published 21 days ago by jimstur
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Ivan Doig is the author of ten previous books. Seven are novels, including English Creek and Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and three are nonfiction, including the highly acclaimed memoir This House of Sky, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. A former ranch hand, newspaperman, and magazine editor, Doig holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He lives in Seattle.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category