My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a fabulous, rip-roaringly wonderful read. If only all books could be as pleasurable an experience as this one. Is there any point in recapping the plot? This book’s been around for awhile now (kudos to Anna who gave me a copy in 2007 with assuranes of a guaranteed great read – which I ignored for a good half decade). And it’s just recently been made into a movie starring some good looking famous people.
There’s a love story (isn’t there always), a wealthy Sheikh (ditto), lots of political intrigue, scandal and oh, ego of course. Wherever you look, it’s just ego, ego, ego. Pure and hilarious. The frightening thing is, having worked within the public service for awhile and being a little bit familiar with the science of “getting stuff done” while managing sensitive diplomatic relations at the same time, much of what is depicted in Salmon Fishing seems to be really very close to reality. It’s satirised, to be sure, but I get the sense that Paul Torday’s cynicism isn’t based on nothing.
Of course, this book was always going to resonate with me more now, living in the Middle East where much of the book is set, than it did back in 2007 when I was living on the other side of the world in Samoa. But still, that’s no excuse. This book has broad appeal, I don’t care where you live. Deep down there’s a thoughtful message too, but my take away is definitely the humour. I’ll stop by my bookshelf often just to read and re-read the email exchanges between Alfred and his almost-not-quite-estranged wife. Oh, and the interludes with Peter Maxwell, whose TV show idea was spectacularly ridiculous in the extreme. P. 240. Read it and weep.