4 out of 4 stars
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When you fall asleep reading in bed at midnight, but wake up at 3:00 AM so you can read some more, you know the book is a winner. The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings is the "real" deal. I was first drawn to this book by the fact that my maiden name is Cummings, by the fact that I had tried fly-fishing before, and by the fact that I am a fan of A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. I found other connections as I read: a teacher (I was one), the Arkansas River in Colorado (I did a white water raft trip there), and the appendix has a link to Fly Fishing Retreats for women recovering from breast cancer (I am a survivor). Another connection I like is the frequent scenes where drinking red wine is involved. What's not to love?
The blurb on the book describes four women who discover a body while fly-fishing. My anticipation increased as I read. I kept wondering when the four women would find the naked girl in the river. The writer methodically introduces all the female characters. Each chapter is narrated in the first person by a different woman. Cummings uses direct and indirect characterization to unveil the unique individuals who form a friendship through fly-fishing. It isn't until the reader is familiar with the four women that the fifth character is discovered floundering in the rapids. Each character's life is changed, and Cummings shows how the change relates to learning to become a fly fisher. This quote by the main character Rose summarizes that philosophy: "Like the river transforms the land, the bond of friendship can transform your life. Trusting the currents, navigating the terrain, and figuring out how to read the water are all skills that take patience, time and love." By the end of the book, each of the women has acquired those skills both in the sport and in life.
Another aspect that I enjoyed was the use of quotes at the beginning of some chapters. Starting with Henry David Thoreau and ending with a tidbit from the L.L. Bean Ultimate Book of Fly Fishing, these passages give an air of authenticity to the fictional story.
The one minor criticism concerns the abundance of dialogue. There was one text conversation that covered more than three Kindle pages of one or two-word quotes with no narration. Also, I sometimes had trouble deciding who was speaking.
This book deserves 4 out of 4 stars. Despite the tedious dialogue, The Reel Sisters is a quick, wonderful read full of adventure and emotions. I did not notice any grammatical errors which increased my reading enjoyment. This would be a perfect choice for a book club and should appeal to both men and women.
The Reel Sisters
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