"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Review and quotes: WORK SONG

Work Song by Ivan Doig

Book Beginnings/First Line Friday quote:
"Morgan, did you say your name is? Funny things, names."
Friday56 quote:
So, I set out from the boardinghouse that first morning with a sense of hope singing in me as always at the start of a new venture.
"If America was a melting pot, Butte would be its boiling point," observes Morrie Morgan, the itinerant teacher, walking encyclopedia, and inveterate charmer last seen leaving a one-room schoolhouse in Marias Coulee, the stage he stole in Ivan Doig's 2006 The Whistling Season. A decade later, Morrie is back in Montana, as the beguiling narrator of Work Song.

Lured like so many others by "the richest hill on earth," Morrie steps off the train in Butte, copper-mining capital of the world, in its jittery heyday of 1919. But while riches elude Morrie, once again a colorful cast of local characters-and their dramas-seek him a look-alike, sound-alike pair of retired Welsh miners; a streak-of-lightning waif so skinny that he is dubbed Russian Famine; a pair of mining company goons; a comely landlady propitiously named Grace; and an eccentric boss at the public library, his whispered nickname a source of inexplicable terror. When Morrie crosses paths with a lively former student, now engaged to a fiery young union leader, he is caught up in the mounting clash between the iron-fisted mining company, radical "outside agitators," and the beleaguered miners. And as tensions above ground and below reach the explosion point, Morrie finds a unique way to give a voice to those who truly need one.

Review: Whistling Season, the first book in the Morrie Morgan series of which Work Song is #2, is one of my top ten favorite books. I love it so much, I've read it three times. In that book Morrie Morgan arrives in a small community in Montana in the early 1900s and through a series of mishaps, ends up as the teacher of a one-room school house with no other qualifications than he is there. Yet, he is a master teacher conquering the hearts and minds of his students as well as the readers of the book. In the end he has to leave town, running from his past. Work Song starts ten years after Whistling Season ends when Morrie returns to Montana, this time in Butte. After a short stint working at a mortuary, he gets a job as a library assistant, a job he seems born to do. As a retired librarian I was taken by the quotes that demonstrate just how much Morrie loved books, learning, and the library. I couldn't resist sharing a few more quotes from the book.

I know exactly how Morrie felt about his library. After teaching for twenty-five years, I became a  school librarian and started my new role in the most lovely high school library in a brand new school. Every day I could pinch myself how lucky I felt to work in such a wonderful place.

I loved being a librarian. When I read this description of a librarian being a bartender of information, I knew exactly how Morrie felt. Isn't it a great description?

Page 275

Clearly, I homed in on the library quotes. But the story is really about how to strengthen the unions, whose members are trying to figure out an angle to get more support. Morrie decides they need a song!

I started out listening to Work Songs on audiobook and was delighted to be reacquainted with the same narrator from Whistling Season, Jonathan Hogan. Here is a sample of this audiobook. You'll hear a voice which reminds me of the voice of many men in the West. If you haven't read anything by Ivan Doig before, I highly recommend his writing and for a strong feel for what it was like, what it must have been like, to live in the West in the first half of the 20th Century. Every page is full of some witticism or another or just some little treasure hidden on the page. I will close with just one more quote. Thinking about the setting of this book -- 1919 right after WWI and The Influenza Pandemic-- it could be said about today just as easily as back then:

My rating: 5 stars. Interested? Read Whistling Season first.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader. First Line Friday is hosted by Reading is My Super Power. Share the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.


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