One of Doig's best, and probably the first one of his that I read. So many of his characters, or their ancestors and descendants, recur through the years, given his using the same locale in the Two Medicine Country of the east side of the Rockies in northern Montana. I've read this one twice--on purpose. It bears some resemblance, in my mind, to one of Willa Cather's books, though I don't recall the title of that one, it was so long ago that I read it. Doig's books use Montana as one of the characters, and given that he uses a fairly small number of families over generations, there's a pleasing circularity. The families begin to feel like old friends--Susan was a student in Angus's schoolroom in "Dancing at the Rascal Fair." I don't remember Monty, but we later learn, in this book, some other important facts about his family that bear on that novel as well. The Duff family recur again in "The Bartender's Tale."
Although I loved Ivan Doig’s book Winter Brothers, I was disappointed in this one. I read it to the end but I was disappointed.
At times the writing was almost like a romance novel. And what is up with constantly describing the color of every person of color in the book? What difference does it make that someone’s skin is the color of a saddle, or a mahogany dresser, or coffee?? The white people’s skins are not described (with one exception - when the main character describes herself as a soda cracker while her student is a graham cracker – arrgh!).
Although I was happy how the book turned out, I don’t think it was quite believable. The chemistry was lacking.
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