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Prairie Nocturne by Ivan Doig
Prairie Nocturne tells the story of the complex relationship between three people in 1924 Montana. Susan Duff is a music instructor who lives alone in Helena. Her past affair with rich cattle baron, Wes Williamson, had cost him the chance to become governor. After not seeing Susan for four years, Wes returns with his black chauffeur and ex-rodeo clown, Monty Rathbun, and asks Susan to give him voice lessons. Susan returns to the family homestead in the prairie to teach Monty, but the Ku Klux Klan disapproves of their relationship and threatens to undo it all. Monty's voice and Susan's teaching leads him to New York City, where the burgeoning Harlem Renaissance presents a new set of rules they must confront. Ivan Doig's realistic depiction of Montana life and engaging story in Prairie Nocturne has received mostly positive reviews. The Rocky Mountain News says, "Alongside Doig's compelling characters is a sense of place that grounds us in the startling beauty of the West and carries us well past Bonanza-sensibilities to a 20th-century understanding of a diverse and continually changing contemporary West."