Cover image for Fly fishing the river of second chances : life, love, and a river in Sweden
Fly fishing the river of second chances : life, love, and a river in Sweden
Olsson, Jennifer.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
viii, 272 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
SH456 .O57 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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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.

Author Notes

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.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved