Archive of June 2010

Tue 8 Jun

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

This book by Paul Torday was the choice of reading group for May.  As I mentioned in my last post it was also one of the three books I took with me on holiday last week and in fact the only of the three which I finished.  There was a definite reason for this, which is that I not only took my library paperback, but also a five CD audio book of the same volume (unabridged).

I would definitely now say that having the book read to me did not detract from the reading, in fact in places it added something. On occasion I switched between reading the book on paper and listening to it and this felt quite seamless.  I had wondered if it would bother me to hear the lines of dialogue spoken rather than imagining the voices of the characters, but I had no problem with this.  There is a point where a radio interview is held, and having the voice of Andrew Marr as a radio four presenter definitely felt like a bonus.  I know audio books are expensive, but I was lucky because a friend already had this so I did not have to buy a copy.  It made the drive pass a lot more pleasantly and I would highly recommend it to anyone.

As for the actual book, well I would recommend it as a decent holiday read, but it is not great literature.  That does not mean the story is without it's merits though, I loved the observations on Arab culture although perhaps they were a little stereotypical.  More interesting was the exploration of politics and civil service.  This was very believable to me and quite entertaining.  The other entertainment was slightly unsavoury, in the form of an exemplary failing marriage which was exploited a little for comic effect I feel.

Lastly, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a little for the keen fisherman here, although how authentic it is I cannot say.  It certainly made me imagine I could enjoy donning waders and fishing a stream in Scotland some day, but I think I shall save that for a future holiday!

Postscript - only since looking at the Wikipedia entry have I realised that my holiday and this book had quite so much in commmon! We went to Northumberland and apparently Paul Torday was a successful businessman there only turning to writing at the age of 59! I found that tremendously encouraging and would never have guessed, and what a coincidence that I was in Northumberland when I was reading the book!