3 out of 4 stars
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A common topic in women’s contemporary fiction is friendship; the sport of fly fishing in fiction is less common, to say the least. The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings focuses on a small, diverse group of women who bond through their love of fly fishing. Not a “girls’ night out at book club” type of story, this might actually be the only novel ever written about fly fishing with your best girlfriends.
The main characters are distinctively written and make the story sparkle. The heart of the group is widowed Rose who has been fly fishing since childhood. Besides Rose, Sophie is the only one who previously knew how to fly fish; in fact, she met Rose in a fly shop. After separately meeting Veronica and Amanda in a random manner, Sophie encourages each of them to come to Rose’s cabin for a girls’ weekend to learn how to fly fish. Their cabin getaways are a way to recharge, have some “girl time,” and, of course, enjoy fly fishing. When the women rescue a naked woman from the river, their close-knit group expands to five.
Set in Colorado, this character-driven book crept into my heart slowly but surely. Written in first person in five alternating perspectives, it took me a while to become absorbed in this leisurely-paced story. Although I would have liked a quicker pace, it fit well with the fishing theme; anyone who has spent any time fishing knows that it is not exactly the fastest-moving sport.
There is a nice mix of the girls’ personal lives and their fun get-togethers. Amanda has a particularly compelling storyline. She struggles to raise two young children while worrying about her husband, who is on a one-year military deployment in Afghanistan.
In the early sections, there is too much emphasis on each character’s detailed backstory, including how they met and became close friends. There are also long explanations of what fly fishing is all about, including the necessary equipment and apparel. While this information is informative, it bogs down the beginning of the story. Once the major characters are firmly introduced, the plot moves along on a more defined path. In the second half, I couldn’t put the book down and stayed up way too late to finish it. I had become so invested in the characters’ lives that I was sad to leave them behind on the last page.
The descriptions are so vivid that I felt like I was right there fishing and laughing with the group. I could even smell the hazelnut lattes and picture the quilts Rose made for each woman. There are a few interesting plot twists, but a quiet beauty shines through the pages whenever the girls simply go fly fishing.
As much as I enjoyed the book, I spotted approximately nine errors. The errors include a missing word, an incorrect word, no space after a comma, no line break between two paragraphs, and incorrect tenses. In addition, the author’s incorrect way of putting a space between each dot in each ellipsis often results in one or two of the dots appearing on the next line.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read with a relatable cast of characters. I recommend this story to anyone who wants to get lost in a good book with an unusual theme. Rose, Amanda, Veronica, Sophie, and Melody…I won’t soon forget you.
The Reel Sisters
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