3 out of 4 stars
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Michelle Cummings has authored 5 books in the team building field, but The Reel Sisters is her first novel. Michelle doesn’t leave you guessing the why of her novel’s title, as the opening line solves this mystery… ‘when it comes to the tools of the fly fisherman's trade, it all begins with a rod and a reel.’ Michelle wrote this book to encourage more women to go fly fishing. Set around Colorado, the novel revolves around a group of women friends, brought together by their love of fly fishing. It is of the other fiction genre.
How would you react if you had to fish a stark naked screaming woman out of the raging waters of a river during a fishing expedition? This is the scenario Rose, Sophie, Amanda and Veronica encountered during their fly fishing weekend retreat on the just unfrozen waters of the Arkansas River in Salida, Colorado. As they tried to warm the ‘fished’ Melody up and wrap their minds around how she ended up naked in the river, they noticed that Rose had fallen into a trance-like shock. What was that all about? Thus started the five friends’ exciting journey of bonding and self-improvement in their fly fishing, as well as their individual lives. The book has us walk with these women as they help each other confront their fears, face their challenges and embrace their gifts. What happens when tragedy strikes?
In The Reel Sisters, the author cleverly infuses the technical details of fly fishing, with humorous happenings in both the individual and collective lives of the five women. This motivates the reader not to procrastinate reading the book till he/she is psychologically prepared, as is the case with many self-help books! Narrated in the first person, by each of the five women, the story is well written and easy to follow. It is interspersed with friendly banter between the women throughout the book. The characters though well developed at the beginning of the book, grow further from lives limited by fears from past tragedies to unencumbered dependable friends of different status in life.
The central theme is developing an outdoor sport, specifically, fly fishing for women. These women constantly reiterate how the sport is enjoyable and how mastering it helps them un-clutter their minds, de-stress and generally improve career-wise. Believe it or not, many leadership/motivational anecdotes e.g. your attitude determines your altitude, are directly linked to fly fishing!The book even ends with a list of fly fishing clubs for women both in the states and internationally. Bonding over an outdoor sport is a secondary theme.
I totally enjoyed learning about a sport I didn’t know before. Can you imagine when I first saw the term fly fishing, I thought it had something to do with flying? After learning all the intricacies of the sport like making the flies, knowing their names and season, making the line, casting to a specific spot, reading the water, changing the fly etc, I couldn’t help but agree with the women that normal fishing (called spin casting) isn’t that exciting because it just involves throwing a line out once and sitting and waiting for a bite! However, I stand corrected on this!
Even though I enjoyed learning the art of fly fishing, in many instances the details were so intense it became ‘geek-speak’ to me. This tended to slow me down, and I did not like it. I also noticed a number of grammatical errors and some missing words, which did not interfere with the flow of the story. One example is in Section 4 where Veronica asks Sophie, ‘Do you know what kind of diapers does Parker wear?’ For these reasons, I give the book a rating of 3 out of 4 Stars.
Other than that, the book was good. So, does that mean I will consider picking up fly fishing as my new hobby? Er.. well…er.. Let's see how things pan out!! But will I recommend this book to anyone? Yes, definitely! Do you enjoy bonding activities? Then this book is a must read as it will give you insights on making your bonding activities even more meaningful. To women out there, whether you are looking for a new sport, love fishing or think fishing is a sport for men, try reading this book - you may not know what you are missing out on as the sport seems really refreshing and has the added advantage of forging stronger social support networks.
The Reel Sisters
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