4 out of 4 stars
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This is a review of the book The Reel Sisters by Michelle Cummings. It is classified in the genre of other fiction.
An unlikely group of five females who have taken up the sport of fly fishing and have become close friends is the basis for this delightful book. The story is set in Denver and the rivers in close proximity, starting off at a fishing cabin along the banks of the Arkansas River as the ladies are arriving for a weekend fishing trip. Narration is divided among the ladies, each one speaking and giving her individual perspective, her own story and a little about the others. Sophie begins as they travel to the cabin for their first trip of the spring. She is a big-hearted, salt of the earth, hardworking, single woman who has failed at love and is now middle-aged and unmarried. Still nursing wounds from 20 years ago, she has poured herself into her business and fly fishing with her dear friends. Veronica, who calls herself a city girl, has a very successful career and marriage. She was introduced to fly fishing after meeting Sophie on a flight from Denver. They arranged a time for Veronica to try fishing and despite the challenges of dealing with bugs and ill-fitting waders, she was captivated when she hooked her first fish. Rose, a widow, the eldest of the group and owner of the cabin, has been fishing since she was a child. All the ladies credit Rose for providing the inspiration, tips and tricks that make fly fishing so much fun. Amanda is a young mother of two, an elementary school teacher, and wife of a serviceman deployed in Afghanistan. She was also introduced to the sport after meeting Sophie. Amanda loves fly fishing and making her own flies but she isn't able to get away as often as the others. Melody, a tattooed and pierced photographer, joined the group by accident, literally. She was taking nude self-portraits at the river's edge when she fell in and was rescued by the four women as she was carried by the current past them. With nothing in common save their love for fly fishing, it seems impossible for them to have developed such close friendships.
The book is a glimpse into a short period of time in their lives, separately and together. Five people with very different personalities, of different means, histories and futures with one thread that binds them: Their love for fly fishing. To these women fly fishing represents an opportunity for relaxation and fun. It is also a time for reflection and healing provided by friends who, figuratively, can strip you naked of your false facades. Fly fishing turns into an opportunity to learn how to love yourself.
The author provides a tremendous amount of information about fly fishing. I personally had no knowledge of fly fishing before reading this book but interwoven throughout is the charm of the sport - enough to capture my interest in actually trying it for myself. The detail of the description of the rivers, river banks and all the countryside was incredibly accurate, so much so that the reader is transported outdoors alongside the ladies. I loved the chapter intro quotes, especially Henry David Thoreau,
Many people fish all of their lives not knowing it's not a fish they are after.
The practical information about what socks to wear with waders, the gear needed beyond the fishing pole as well as tips on where to shop and how much to pay for all the gear was very useful. I would dare to say that this book should be required reading for any woman wanting to take up the sport of fly fishing. In fact, every tackle shop should have a stack of these books for sale.
The short window we are given into these women's lives left me wanting to know more about them, more than the narrative around the fishing trips. The author does offer insight into each woman and some of their past lives but the ending is so abrupt. Are we preparing for a sequel? I am hooked.
My official rating for this book is 4 out of 4 stars. It was well written and thorough. I would recommend it as an enjoyable read. The Kindle version I read did include questions for book club discussion.
The Reel Sisters
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