I’ll put it up front; this book is a five-star read.
Doig has his PhD in history with years of experience on a ranch, and with newspapers and magazines. But that only begins to tell us about his writing skills. He is a wordsmith, one of those people who can turn words into music, or a painting, or a motion picture.
The story-teller and center of action is Paul Milliron, thirteen and the oldest of three sons of Oliver Milliron whose wife died the preceding year. As a dry-land farmer in 1909 Montana, Oliver scanned the position wanted ads until he saw one for a woman who, as the ad was titled, Can’t Cook But Doesn’t Bite. Soon, the four males had themselves a housekeeper and her brother as a tag along.
Brother Morrie took over the one-room school when the current teacher ran off to marry a preacher. Morrie turned the classroom upside down, just as Rose did in the housekeeping department. Throw in an eighth grade class of dull boys made of muscle and little else, a father who is a cross between the incredible hulk and Godzilla, and we have a recipe for a great story.
But Hoig is not content with that. His story lives and breathes. It walks, runs, struts, and whispers. Just when we think life has settled into a dull Montana winter…. Things happen.
Do not stop reading until you get to the last page; it ain’t over till it’s over.