THE COMPLEAT ANGLER
Part Three (TCA3)

“THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAYLING”

The Compleat Angler is about how to dream, and that is why we love it … This book has lasted so long because fishing has a mystery at its heart. The quest for fish mirrors a more ambitious quest, that search for dreaming contentment that kept Walton on the stream well into the last decade of his ninety years.”  

Howell Raines
'Introduction' to The Compleat Angler (1997 edition)

ABOUT TCA3

TCA3 is a comic novel that casually casts into the murky waters of literary history and reels in startling new truths & surprising revelations about The Compleat Angler, and its celebrated co-authors & legendary fishing buddies: Izaak Walton & Charles Cotton. 

Part Three rewrites the 350-year-old Compleat Angler storyline for the 21st century. It reinvents the legend of an older master teaching a younger man the intricacies of fly-fishing as an art, as a state of mind, and as an extension of life. The satirical storyline seamlessly and shamelessly updates the rustic 17th century fishing tale to the present day. And in turn, TCA3 not only mirrors The Compleat Angler … it shatters that mirror.   

TCA3 is the entertaining tale of how two men faced off, feuded, fell out, fell in, fooled around and fly-fished their way to uncovering many mysteries that had lain dormant and undiscovered within The Compleat Angler for more than three centuries. Part Three takes these disturbing discoveries and weaves them into a convoluted CSI*-style ‘literary forensics’ adventure that recreates the original Angler story, with far-reaching consequences.
[* CSI = Chalk Stream Investigation]

TCA3 does for The Compleat Angler what The Da Vinci Code did for The Last Supper. It strips away the surface of an iconic masterpiece to expose a litany of deceit, betrayal and a stark reality far removed from the tranquil tome of true friendship and rose-coloured memories. Part Three zestfully harpoons the great white whale that is The Compleat Angler and jestfully lampoons that great white elephant The Da Vinci Code … to such an extent that it is sub-titled "The Last Fish Supper."

Certainly no aspect of fly-fishing is as enjoyable as those which have a good, firmly based and well established myth or two for company.”

Conrad Voss Bark, A Fly On The Water (1986)

TCA3 rekindles the original story concept but revamps it by way of a humorous homage to its predecessors with a trail of tantalising twists that rewrites the history of The Compleat Angler, as millions of faithful readers and hundreds of Angler editors have known it. 

The main plot of having its two leading characters uncovering a myriad of mysteries ironically lays waste to the long-established - and often repeated - perceptions of The AnglerThe result of which is a paradigm shift across all previously prescribed understanding of the ethos, mythology and timeline of Walton's five editions and Cotton's Part Two. 

Not only does Part Three resurrect the time-honoured Compleat Angler construct but it totally redefines and redrafts the historical perspective way beyond anything that has been written about the book before. All this is achieved within the constraints of creating a standalone novel narrative that closely follows the original two Parts; the actual history of which it ends up, literally, blowing out of the water. 

Although one of the sub-plots revolves around a fishing lesson, TCA3unlike Parts One and Two, is not intended as a fishing manual (almost the opposite, in fact). 

However, Part Three does contain a cornucopia of quotations, poems, references and useful information relating to fly-fishing, along with a number of scenes full of angling action from various locations around the UK.

While TCA3 is primarily about fishing and the most famous angling book of all time, it is not solely aimed at the fishing fraternity. A reader does not have to be a fly-fishing expert or even an Angler fan to enjoy the journey that spans four centuries and culminates in redrafting literary history in some small way. Nor is the appeal of TCA3 limited to readers in the British Isles; it will have a global impact most notably in the USA: 

More than 35 million Americans today are spiritual descendants of this celebrated patriarch of piscatorial pursuits, the author of the first widely accepted fishing how-to book, the man who gave the world one of its great therapies - "the minds of anglers being usually more calm and composed than many others,” he wrote. And increasingly today . . .
[Izaak Walton] the father of fishing
is coming to be recognized as a godfather of conservation and preservation.
 

Robert Kyle
The Washington Post (1993)

A very topical reason for the need for a Part Three is that Walton's and Cotton's books are still both seen as ground-breaking in terms of rivercraft, aquatic conservation and husbandry of local flora and fauna.

The Compleat Angler, one of the most important environmental books in history.”

Izaak Walton League of America
IWLA.org

The Compleat Angler ... long hailed as a primary inspiration for the modern conservation movement.
Benjamin M. Guyer in The Sixteenth Century Journal (2016)


In light of today's global warming and, more pertinently, such local issues as chalkstream degradation, Part Three will continue to champion the countryside's cause. As well as highlighting these environmental worries, TCA3 will team up with river conservation charities to promote awareness of the various concerns and to raise funds. 
See LEGACY below

The Compleat Angler depicts the environment as something so precious and complex that we have a moral obligation to work together to understand and preserve it. Walton’s anglers not only develop a detailed knowledge of natural history and ecology, they also advocate for conservation and practice environmental justice ... Walton thus champions a comprehensive strategy of conservation that shapes the policies and activities of all levels of government as well as the behaviour of individual sportsmen.

Prof. Majorie Swann on IWLA.org

“There’s clearly a solid market. It’s a classic of English literature ... It’s a very attractively written thing. Because the book combines philosophical musings on nature and the countryside, as well as being a book of instruction about how to catch and cook fish, I think it is beloved of conservationists and anyone who enjoys unspoilt nature.”

Judith Luna, commissioning editor Oxford World Classics
in The Times (2004)

“What raises The Compleat Angler far above a mere manual or series of jolly outings is Walton's profound understanding of natural history and the particular ecosystems fundamental to angling. In his awareness of the environment, he was centuries ahead of his time.
 
Simon Redfern in The Independent (2016)


Fly-Fisherman-line-break
Compleat Angler Part Three Colin M Jarman Cotton Walton

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OPENING SYNOPSIS OF 
THE COMPLEAT ANGLER Part Three (TCA3)

As in Parts One & Two, TCA3 follows the same dialogue story format, featuring an older angler instructing a younger man in the artistry and beauty of fly-fishing. 

Much of the novel is set on the River Frome - a legendary chalkstream that runs across Dorset, in southwest England. (Other main locations include: Dorchester, Winchester, a secret lake, the River Dove and the Fishing House.) 

The older master [Sir Roderick Hunter] - a media baron who owns a large private estate on the Frome - is host of a Fly-Fishing TV show and a highly-respected expert on The Compleat Angler. Sir Roderick has recently retired; having sold his global media empire for half a billion dollars. 

The younger man [Francis Falconer] - originally from Chicago, but working at the American Embassy in London in a secretive capacity - is visiting Dorset to ask permission to marry Sir Roderick’s youngest daughter. 

After a spectacularly unsuccessful first morning fishing the Frome, Francis strikes up an innocent conversation about The Compleat Angler. Hoping, by showing interest in his host's most cherished topic, it will curry favour with Roderick. 

The seemingly innocuous questions Francis asks about The Compleat Angler, in a vain attempt to connect with his prospective father-in-law, triggers a series of heated discussions about Walton & Cotton, and The Angler itself. 

During a thunderstorm, Roderick takes time out from fishing to educate Francis on ‘the greatest book ever written.’ 

He gives his guest a potted history of The Angler, its exalted place in English literature, the 600+ reprinted editions, and its convivial co-authors. 

He explains about their close family ties, Cotton's hallowed Fishing House, and the many hours the pair spent fishing together on the Dove, in the Peak District. 

Despite the expert history lesson, Francis cannot comprehend how Roderick’s tale of cordiality and comradeship stands at odds with what he has read in the book: that the authors appear to have fallen out and their relationship being far from friendly.

Over the next few days, the pair continue to fish the sublime stretch of the Frome that winds its way through the estate. 

Using resources from Roderick's extensive angling library and his host's vast knowledge of The Angler, Francis sets about seeking answers to his growing list of Angler mysteries.

In return for Roderick's expert insight into The Angler, Francis accepts his mentor's challenge: no talk of marriage until he has landed a trout from the Frome. Suffice to say, Francis struggles to catch the matrimonial trout, due in no small part part to Roderick's none too subtle sabotage.   

However, the more Francis digs and delves into The Angler's hallowed past, the more mysteries he unearths. And the fewer of his questions, Roderick can answer . . . 

Story to be continued & mysteries revealed
in Part Three of The Compleat Angler
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Not only are the only two characters in TCA3 based on Piscator and Viator from The Compleat Angler, but Roderick and Francis share similarities with authors Walton and Cotton. Part Three twists these similarities like a clinch knot: sexagenarian Roderick befits the younger, hard-living ennobled cavalier Cotton; while thirty-something Francis adopts the more prudish persona of the older, steadfast scholar Walton. 

TCA3
 also reworks minor characters from The Angler, for example: Walton’s underage milkmaid is transformed into a lustful coffee shop owner serving more than frothy lattés. 

For those who have not read the original or those who have but are not fully aware of its history, Part Three relates a detailed account of The Compleat Angler: Roderick revelling in his role of Falstaffian fabulist and Francis essaying a belligerent Boswellian bookworm. 

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LEGACY OF TCA3

Last-trout-cartoon-h-m-bateman-fly-fishing-conservation
"The Last Trout" cartoon by H.M. Bateman Copyright HM Bateman Estate (www.hmbateman.com)
In line with Colin's support for fishing conservation and river management (notably chalkstreams), part of the proceeds from book sales of Part Three will be donated to river conservation charities. 

Let us hope we never find ourselves in the perilous position of fishing for that one "Last Trout." 


Please check back for further updates on this charitable connection and on how to donate to the chosen cause. 


Original text, video and colour photos
© Copyright Colin M Jarman (2022)