Fly Fishing the River of Second Chances: Life, Love, and a River in Sweden

Overview

Jennifer Olsson had a busy life in Bozeman, Montana. Mother to a young son and running a tackle shop alongside her husband, she was also much in demand as a fly-fishing guide. Then a letter arrived from a Swedish river-keeper named Lars. He had found Jennifer's name in a brochure and thought that inviting this well-known American fishing guide to visit his stretch of river—-once nearly ruined by logging and now making a comeback—-might be a terrific public relations coup.

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2003 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Book is Brand New. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 256 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Jennifer Olsson had a busy life in Bozeman, Montana. Mother to a young son and running a tackle shop alongside her husband, she was also much in demand as a fly-fishing guide. Then a letter arrived from a Swedish river-keeper named Lars. He had found Jennifer's name in a brochure and thought that inviting this well-known American fishing guide to visit his stretch of river—-once nearly ruined by logging and now making a comeback—-might be a terrific public relations coup.

At first, Jennifer considered tossing the letter out with the junk mail. Reasons not to go were legion, beginning with a fully booked guide season and no extra shop help. Besides, what did Sweden have to offer a fly fisher from the hallowed trout waters of the American West? Lars, however, was persistent. Late one night, in apparent ignorance of the time difference between Sweden and Montana, he called to follow up. Listening to his voice on the answering machine, Jennifer made one of those decisions that change life instantly and forever. She picked up the phone and said she would come.

This wonderful memoir provides us with a true "and then . . ." story. Jennifer went to Sweden and fell in love—-with the country, the river, and with its keeper. Jennifer and Lars Olsson venture into a cross-cultural fly-fishing life, beginning with an attempt on Jennifer's part to wade the chilling but bracing currents of rural Sweden. Here people speak sparingly (if at all), paint their houses in one of two colors (one predominates), and seem curiously immune to mosquitoes (in numbers beyond counting). They are passionate about berry picking, barn dances, moose hunts, and a delicacy called surströmming, or sour herring—-so toxic that it is best eaten only where there is ample ventilation and a ready source of fresh water. When she isn't fishing the river for grayling (a cousin of the trout), Jennifer explores her village, discovering a place and its inhabitants that time almost forgot. When she gets invited to participate in the annual moose hunt, Jennifer knows she has truly been accepted.

Fly Fishing the River of Second Chances is about starting over, about navigating our way when our choices take us in over our heads. Delightful, sometimes bittersweet, often hilarious, and always deeply affectionate, here is a portrait of Sweden and a memoir about second chances that no reader will forget.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Olsson's second chance comes in the form of an invite to fish and guide on Sweden's Idsjastramen River. Although married, she falls in love with Lars, the Swedish riverkeeper, leading Olsson to pull up stakes in Montana and move with her young son to the small village of Gilmaden, Sweden. Despite the title, Olsson's memoir only shows brief glimpses of life on the river and her field of expertise, fly fishing. Instead, she concentrates on the nuances of Swedish culture. Her contact with and descriptions of Swedish plumbing, home design, social life, family interaction and food ("Swedes eat a lot of white food") range from humorous to touching. Her insights into Swedish character are also astute. For instance, during Sweden's miserable mosquito season, she points out rather coyly that the use of any kind of repellant indicates a "weakness of character." Unfortunately, Olsson explains little about Lars, her son or any of the Swedish characters she comes to know, and this makes the book less emotional and interconnected than one might expect from a memoir that involves a cross-cultural love affair. Still, Olsson's writing is perceptive enough to allow each chapter to stand on its own, making this book the kind of travelogue that can be read streamside. Illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In tight, no-nonsense prose, a fly-fishing guide describes that segment of her life when she and her son left Montana for Sweden, a man, and a river of grayling. The second chance alluded to in the title refers to a new relationship and a new land. Olsson had been living in Montana with her rapidly estranging husband, running a fishing shop, when she received an invitation to come to Sweden. Lars Olsson was experiencing a growth of women anglers on the stream he kept, and he wanted Olsson to provide him with some insight into what women anglers were after. Lars had brought the ruined Gim River back from the devastation of logging, as proved by the grayling, a gregarious fish that only inhabit the purest of waters. Olsson was soon smitten by the grayling—they are not great fighters, but, oh, what a colorful dorsal fin—and by Lars. "Something about Lars made me feel awake and aware. Something bewildering was happening, and I couldn’t identify what it was." Soon, Olsson and her son Peter were flying to the little town of Gimdalen to a ramshackle house by a resurrected river, and they plunged into Swedish life. Understandably, not all is smooth on the cultural-acclimation front, but they learn—as revealed in short chapters—how to deal with those long lapses of silence in Swedish conversations ("Living in rural Sweden for several months soon reduces verbal output to the aforementioned mmms, ja-has, and air-intake sounds followed by yooooo"), how to deal with the mosquitoes and ants, how to pick cloudberries, dance under the midsummer sun, and take the music of the river and the soughing of the trees as their own. Who can possibly doubt, after only a few pages, that Olssonmade the right move at the right time? More than a pretty story, but a life shed and a new one grown, with results happy and natural. Agent: Carole Bidnick
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312313159
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.56 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Olsson has appeared on NPR's Talk of the Nation and CBS's This Morning and was profiled on PBS's Western States Fly-Fishing Journal. She is the author of Cast Again: Tales of a Fly-Fishing Guide, and her articles appear regularly in a number of outdoors and travel magazines. She and her family divide their time between Gimdalen, Sweden, and Bozeman, Montana.

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