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  • A River Runs Through It

  • By: Norman Maclean
  • Narrated by: Ivan Doig
  • Length: 3 hrs and 56 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Summary

Life for the MacLean family in Missoula, Montana, in 1937 centers around family, fly fishing and the Big Blackfoot River. Fly fishing is the one activity where the family can bridge troubled relationships, where brother can connect with brother and father with son. And in the end, it is through the river that they realize how life continues and all things are related. This is a universal story of family love and a lyrical masterpiece, as beautiful as the great trout rivers of western Montana upon which it is set.
©1976 by The University of Chicago (P)1992 HighBridge Company; 16 9; 2000 HighBridge Company

Critic reviews

"Exquisite...this recording joins the ranks of the few near-perfect matches of reader and author." ( Philadelphia Inquirer)

What listeners say about A River Runs Through It

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Forget Hemingway...

...this is the best fishing story. Montana's favorite son, Doig is an authentic, if not professional, narrator of this moving classic.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A perfect Audio Book

Beautifully written and read. I have been an avid listener of audible books for many years with pushing 200 titles now on my ipod. But this is the one i keep coming back to and just can't fault it is totally absorbing the characterisation is perfect the pace and hummer gentle. There is nothing clumsy or that jars the story is hard and all the more poignant when you consider it is based on the authors own life. I should perhaps say that i fly fish and that fly fishing is a central theme of the book but don't let that put you off just be warned you may want to give it a try after listening to the book. The reader is so good you are unaware and him, this being my highest complement for any reader his effortless style and delivery are perfect for the book.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 27-05-05

Lyrical - wonderfully done

A River Runs Through It is one of my favorite books of all time. It is not simply a book on fishing, but instead an elegantly articulated story about relationships, about beauty ("My father was one of the few men who would comfortably use the word beautiful"), and, above all, a story about the individual spirituality of fly fishing (from the first line: "In my family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing").

It is, as well, a wonderful example of how to write well. The prose is evocative, yet lean and spare - MacLean could draw more from fewer words than anyone else I ever read.

Having the book read by Ivan Doig, another Montana author, gives it a familiarity of someone who also writes well (but not in Norman MacLean's league) about Montana and the out doors and relationships. I will listen to this book again and again...whenever I need context to contemplate the challenges and the beauty of life!

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sharon
  • 09-08-10

A River Runs Through It

I wish I had this book in my hands to quote from it...a definite lack in this listening thing. I find this short novel exquisite. Every line has meaning. The relationships are achingly full of perception and grace. The metaphor of the river, and fly fishing, is omnipresent and speaks of the love that is shot through the main characters' interactions with each other. I have listened to this book twice, and read it once. The film is ghastly....the meaning is in the words, and layered: the river, fly fishing, one's relation to one's god, brothers and families, the story of the prodigal son, violence and mayhem of the heart, the beauty of knowing something. And in closing: I plan to just ignore reviews that don't recognize or understand the craft of fiction.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Melissa
  • 30-06-11

Gorgeous

Prose and story are both gorgeous and a delight to listen to. For those who wrote about the overuse of fly-fishing, it's a metaphor for life. I've never fly-fished, nor will I, but I can appreciate the way the lessons of fly-fishing have informed the narrator's worldview. The narration, like the prose, is understated. Truly a treat.

5 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • taratooley
  • 20-01-06

A Horrid Book

My middle school children were assigned this book and I decided to listen along. Boy am I glad I did. My children (12 & 14) are connoisseurs of excellent literature - "Mom, this is boring and stupid." We ceased the reading/listening mid way.

I/we were offended not only by the lame writing, but by the content. A very remedial "he said, she said” book with drunken characters wandering aimlessly through the book. This is NOT Montana and I hope you will reconsider before purchasing this waste of time.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Nate
  • 24-08-05

almost excellent

Without a doubt the text of this story is wonderful. I great book to listen to and contemplate. However, the sound quality broke up in places and that much of the experience makes me hesitate to give all 5 stars - a review the book itself deserves.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Syd Young
  • 30-09-15

If you love a Fisherman

What you need to know is that this is mainly a book about fishing. And brothers. And the pain and deep love of Family. It is not the movie, although it is clearly the brothers of the movie and I think if I read more of these stories, I'll find the movie story. I've never been a fisherman. It doesn't work to read and fish, so that's out. But I do love fishermen, my grandad in particular. So I loved reading about fishing.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Frances
  • 28-02-08

Big Mistake!

This was the most boring and poorly written novel ever! The author went on and on about fly fishing; that I questioned whether this book was about anything else. If I didn't know it, I would of thought I just read "Fly Fishing for Dummies" reference book. I thought it was about brotherhood, relationships, and good old family bonding. Don't choose this book, if that's what you're looking for. It was a mistake selecting this read.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew
  • 05-05-19

Much better than the movie as always!

This audio book was really interesting as it went into much more detail about the fly fishing than the movie. I was required to read this book for a fly fishing course at my college but don’t let that stop you! Great read!

1 person found this helpful

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  • valia
  • 26-07-15

Horrible tragedy

Produced by alcoholism another family is destroyed just like mine. I empathized .
A good read a bit too much focus on fishing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel J. Giblin
  • 22-08-22

Mesmerizing

Knew the movie, loved this book, was thrilled to hear it read by favorite author Ivan Doig, whose western writings have charmed this East Coast city girl for decades.