I made a mistake deciding to read Greg French’s latest book, ‘Water Colour’. I’d had a huge day of work, kids’ sport and then a late night of flyfishing films at the Rise festival. I was happy but wrecked and in need of a good night’s sleep. “Just a quick glance at a couple of pages,” I promised myself as I picked up the new book on the bedside table.
It was well into the wee hours when exhaustion finally beat Greg’s addictive stories and I put it down. The problem was, with each chapter being quite short and relatively self-contained, it was a bit like working up a good stream and seeing another nice pool up ahead. ‘Just one more’ seemed harmless enough.
In some ways, ‘Water Colour’ is the most similar of all Greg’s books to his very first: the much-loved ‘Frog Call’. And yet it’s difficult to nail down exactly what that means! The book certainly has plenty of flyfishing adventures and stories, from an unlikely flight in a tiny plane to the remote New River Lagoon, to freshwater ‘smelters’ on the Mersey River. And while there are some more exotic trips of the kind featured in ‘The Last Wild Trout’ and ‘The Imperiled Cutthroat’, I enjoyed the focus on Australian, New Zealand and, in particular, Tasmanian waters.
Besides fishing and nature, ‘Water Colour’ is also very much about people and personalities. From bogans, to dear friends and unbelievably hardy bushman, the conversations and observations are remarkable. There are some very sad stories of loss, frustrations with bureaucracy, and personal battles. However, the book is anything but bleak; on the contrary it’s quite uplifting and enjoyable. I guess you can’t spend as much time in nature and flyfishing as Greg does, and not feel better for the experience.
‘Water Colour’ is beautifully written, and classily produced and edited. And despite being hard to put down, at 275 densely-packed pages, I can vouch that it takes quite a few evenings to read from cover to cover.
Published by Affirm Press, RRP $29.95. Available at The Flyfisher.