Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, by Paul Torday
Published by Phoenix, 2007
Genres: Fiction, contemporary, humour, politics, romance
Source: Purchased (second-hand)
When Dr Alfred Jones, a well-respected and strait-laced fisheries scientist, is contacted to work on a project to introduce the sport of salmon fishing to the Yemen, he dismisses it as a ridiculous fantasy. There is no way that cold-water-loving salmon could ever even survive in the desert of the Yemen. But Dr Jones finds himself progressively charmed by the project and his colleagues, learning about himself along the way. What follows is a delightful and humorous tale, told in the form of letters, interviews, emails and articles.
I absolutely love books written in this style! When I read a review for this book on bookstagram (Instagram pages where we post about and discuss books, see mine!) and discovered that it was an epistolary novel, I jumped at the chance to read it. There is just something so engrossing about a novel written in this way. I love piecing the story together for myself, as well as all the different voices this brings to a book.
Although I usually always prefer to read the book before seeing the film, I don’t think I even knew this was a book before I saw the film a few years ago. I find that the film does tend to influence my enjoyment of a book, especially when it has been adapted in a certain way. For instance, in this case, the ending in the film is very different to the book, so I was a little surprised, and I will admit, a bit disappointed with the book’s ending.
Besides the writing style, one of my favourite aspects was the characters. They were so beautifully written and believable. I instantly disliked Dr Jones’ wife, who is selfish and ambitious and frankly quite horrible. I loved the quiet and dignified sheikh. I really disliked the pompous and self-serving politicians. But I particularly loved Dr Jones’ evolution throughout the book. He starts off rather boring and stuffy, stuck in his little life, with a loveless marriage and boring job. And he discovers so much more about himself through this project.
However, once again the ending slightly let me down. I had grown attached to the characters and I would have liked to know a little more about what happens to them in the end. It felt a little rushed and abrupt to me. But maybe I am still talking with the happy ending of the film in mind…
My rating: 4/5