This turned out to be a timely read because part of the story is related to how Sputnik affected education in the United States in the sixties. It's a well-told story by a skilled storyteller, Ivan Doig.
As is true of many of Doig's novels, this one is a page turner, funny, poignant, poetic, a coming of age tale for young Paul. His mother died a few months ago, and the whole male household is pining. None of them can cook, or keep house. So they craft a want ad asking for a housekeeper with cooking skills. What they get back is a reply saying, "Can't Cook, but Doesn't Bite." Intrigued, father Oliver and his sons Paul, Damon, and Toby decide to take a chance on her. Her letter in reply sounds wonderful, but she says she'll need three months' salary in advance, because of the distance. Then two people get off the train, Rose and a dandy she introduces as Morrie, her brother. The family likes them both, and Rose is indeed a wonderful housekeeper. But she really can't cook, so the men in the family continue to eat 'tovers, from Oliver's previous night's attempt. Rose and Morrie board nearby, and Morrie works hard at all the odd jobs he can find. Soon, the hated school teacher marries, and Morrie's asked by the school board to fill in. The kids love him, and his lessons, and learn a lot in unconventional ways. Paul gets special lessons in Latin, which he loves. Rose takes special care of one of the boys who gets stepped on by a family horse. An odd coincidence leads to Morrie confessing something to Paul that the 15 yr old has to decide what he's going to do about.
Entertaining. The switch between past and present was a bit confusing at first but I became used to it after a bit. Likely more interesting if one knows a bit of Latin!
Oh, how I enjoyed this book!!! Although published in 2006, I will state it was my most favorite read for 2018.
And I do believe I will read the two that follow next in this series.
My Grandfather purchased a farm in Indiana--in the 40's--that at one time had a one room school right in the middle of a field. It was moved to another area, in which the county agreed to change the grid layout for a road to go past it and on to another road. Later that structure was turned into a home in which the big attic would accommodated a large bedroom with two walk-in closets, a small bedroom with a walk-in closet and a large bathroom would take up the remaining space, the lower level became a small kitchen, a large living room and a small utility room all with electrical features--This part of the life of the building is a memory of my childhood.
Several family members would live there over many years, and as well a couple of hired hands. It was in the process of being moved to a town (in the 80's) for Historical reclamation when somehow it caught fire and burned to the ground.
This was a great read. I grew up in the era of the one room schoolhouse which closed two years after I graduated so this was a very nostalgic read for me. I highly recommend this book.
Just a wonderful, wonderful movie!!!!! great director and great actor
A little slow getting started but an engaging story after it hit its stride.
I find Doig to oftentimes write a line that makes me stop and think, "Wow...what a way with words!"
This is a thoroughly nice story, with bits of darkness thrown in to counterbalance any too too niceness. Doig has written an homage to the one room school and the sometimes remarkable teachers who took them on. Frontier Montana figures front and centre in the story of Paul, his brothers Damen and Tobie, his father Oliver, their housekeeper Rose and her brother Morrie the schoolteacher. The reader is right there experiencing the cold of winter days as the boys ride their horses to school, the excitement of a good meal on Sundays, and the rough and tumble of the schoolyard. A bit nostalgic but also a recognition that country schools are an endangered species. While the now adult Paul reminisces about the time Rose and Morrie came to them, his position with the school district is forcing him to make serious decisions.
What a beautiful, poignant book. This is Doig at his best. The landscape is as much a character as the people and the people are fascinating.
I have read many of Ivan Doig's books and this one was no disappointment. He is an amazing storyteller and the way he crafts his stories is lovely. This is not a book that you can't put down, but rather one that draws you in, invites you to sit down and enjoy the story, the language and the characters. What a treasure Ivan Doig is.
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