In tight, no-nonsense prose, a fly-fishing guide describes that segment of her life when she and her son left Montana for Sweden, a man, and a river of grayling.
The second chance alluded to in the title refers to a new relationship and a new land. Olsson had been living in Montana with her rapidly estranging husband, running a fishing shop, when she received an invitation to come to Sweden. Lars Olsson was experiencing a growth of women anglers on the stream he kept, and he wanted Olsson to provide him with some insight into what women anglers were after. Lars had brought the ruined Gim River back from the devastation of logging, as proved by the grayling, a gregarious fish that only inhabit the purest of waters. Olsson was soon smitten by the grayling—they are not great fighters, but, oh, what a colorful dorsal fin—and by Lars. “Something about Lars made me feel awake and aware. Something bewildering was happening, and I couldn’t identify what it was.” Soon, Olsson and her son Peter were flying to the little town of Gimdalen to a ramshackle house by a resurrected river, and they plunged into Swedish life. Understandably, not all is smooth on the cultural-acclimation front, but they learn—as revealed in short chapters—how to deal with those long lapses of silence in Swedish conversations (“Living in rural Sweden for several months soon reduces verbal output to the aforementioned mmms, ja-has, and air-intake sounds followed by yooooo”), how to deal with the mosquitoes and ants, how to pick cloudberries, dance under the midsummer sun, and take the music of the river and the soughing of the trees as their own. Who can possibly doubt, after only a few pages, that Olsson made the right move at the right time?
More than a pretty story, but a life shed and a new one grown, with results happy and natural.