When we start reading the book the protagonist, Dr Alfred Jones, a civil servant at the National Centre for Fisheries Excellence, is merely a shy man who is more at home researching the mating habits of freshwater mussels than trying to find out why his marriage has become a real bore, and why his financier wife Mary has decided to work abroad.
But everything changes when a rich Yemeni, Sheikh Muhammud, offers to fund a project to populate the wadis of his desert lands with Scottish salmon. The project is finally known by the Prime Minister, who is delighted to support any Middle East initiative that involves no dying soldiers. The project starts and Dr jones seems to be the only one who believes this project is possible, as all the others are for the money and their own political interests.
However, he is not alone, he’s got two allies: the sheikh himself, a well-evoked figure with a visionary fondness for his hobby and the other is Harriet Chetwode-Talbot, a beautiful woman working for the sheikh’ whose fiancé is stationed in Iraq. Together they set out to make the sheikh’s dream a reality. Dr Jones, Harriet and the sheikh are like three salmons swimming up the stream in a desert of ignorance, hypocrisy and interests. At the same time we read Dr Jones and Harriet are living a short love story which is not possible and that makes Dr Jones to start working in a project nobody believes and become a strong and more mature character.
The ending of the book is unexpected, as the whole project fails the same day of the opening ceremony . The book is in fact a moral tale about the importance of believing in something. and the comparative unimportance of everything else. We all liked and agreed about the most important aspects of the book.