A River Runs Through It

Narrated by: Ivan Doig
Length: 3 hrs and 56 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (664 ratings)

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Publisher's 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

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

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

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.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

a bittersweet story of father and sons

rarely say this but I enjoyed the movie more than the book. A River Runs Through It is about a young man named Maclean, his brother and father, the open vistas they loved and the fly fishing that kept them bonded together. On the surface it is exactly the kind of book I would love -- a character portrait that takes place in a setting so beautifully described that it takes on the role of a character, and a heavy emotional impact.

Maclean is flawed. He is in pain. He needs help but nobody else seems able to do so. They are plagued by memories. The prose is spare and quiet, emphasizing the warmth, sentiment and remorse. The author wrote this one in his seventies and it shows. He is able to tell a story that is told as a reflection on and meditation of a life lived. The book is both sweet and bittersweet, reminiscent and melancholy.

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    4 out of 5 stars

River runs through it

It’s a very good book. It is unexpectedly funny and even though had no real plot line, it is still a very good book about fly fishing that all should read

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A hauntingly beautiful story

I can remember reading a novel by Hemingway when I was a boy, and it touched me deeply. Although, this story has none of the grit of that Hemingway novel it touched me deeply in a similar nostalgic manner. Maclean's writing is timeless, humorous, and borders on poetry at times In this telling of his life, Mackean makes the reader/listener not a tourist, rather an invited guest. Amazing literature.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Sleepy

I usually never buy books shorter than 6-7 hours, not worth the credit. This one is slow and boring, I use it for going to sleep at night.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Margery
  • 07-31-18

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
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  • tim l.
  • 12-06-11

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.