Paul Torday British businessman and dedicated angler Paul Torday has found a way to combine a novel about fishing and all that it means with a satire involving politics, bureaucrats, the Middle East, the war in Iraq, and a sheikh who is really a mystic. Torday makes it all work in a most convincing way using memos, interviews, e-mails, and letters in clever juxtaposition.
Don’t be put off by the title of this book; it is about so much more than fishing (although it is worth saying that I know so much more about fishing than I ever thought was possible and the genius is that I still loved the book!). In fact the story touches on many areas; politics, spin, ethics, society’s values, terrorism, consumerism, and so the list could go on. It also manages to do this whilst being funny, it made me laugh out loud in places, and not many stories achieve that.
It is a clever, witty and intriguing satire about our society and its political leaders, of whom there are thinly veiled references to figures we would all recognise. At the heart of the tale there are interesting and diverse characters who are all coming together to make this bizarre project work. We follow Dr Jones on his personal journey, but for me the Sheikh was the most interesting character. He is a Yemeni version of an English eccentric and his influence on all the characters changes their lives. This is not just because of his wacky project , or even his wealth, but his gentle, insightful and spiritual nature. He challenges and supports them, and therefore us too, to think about how the world works and whether different societies having different values and ways of doing things is really such a bad thing.
The story is told through emails, diary entries, letters and interviews. As this is developed it is fascinating and amusing to find out about the characters’ perception of each other. I liked the result of the story always being told in the first person, and looking at the same events through the eyes of different people. However, it does make the contents page look a little daunting. Using this style of writing also means that it was easy to just read a little bit, or just a little bit more too! Verdict: An original premise and funny story that can also make you think. I never thought I would enjoy a book about fishing so much! Reviewed by Helen