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The story starts in the city of Vancouver with Maggie Vardoe, who escapes from her unhappy marriage into nature. Maggie has been planning her escape for some time by selling homemade fly fishing equipment to a local store in order to save money. When the time is right, she runs off in a taxi.

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When Edward, Maggie’s husband, realizes that she is missing, he visits all their family and friends. This includes the Severances. The Severances live next door and are close friends of the Vardoes. Nell Severance stays in touch with Maggie through letters.

Maggie continues deeper into the woods and away from the city, where she puts her fishing skills into practice. She has flashbacks to her first marriage and childhood. Eventually Maggie ends up at Three Loon Lake and begins to work at Haldar Gunnarsen’s fishing lodge. Maggie gets entangled in the lives of the Gunnarsen family as she begins to renovate the lodge. Vera Gunnarsen becomes jealous and attempts suicide.

Nell injures herself in Vancouver and sends her revolver named Swamp Angel to Maggie. Nell asks Maggie to throw her revolver in the lake after she passes. Maggie rows out into the middle of the lake and throws the revolver in the air. She watches as it twists and turns, scares the fish, and settles at the bottom of the lake.


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Tired of her second marriage, to Edward Vardoe, and the routine of her pent-up life in Vancouver, Maggie Vardoe decides to run away to the interior of British Columbia, where she finds freedom in nature. As the novel opens Maggie watches the flight of birds outside her window, her planned escape paralleling their migration beyond the mountains. To support herself and her secret plan, she has been making fishing flies—a skill she acquired in New Brunswick during her childhood—for a year and selling them to a sporting goods shop. At a prearranged hour, she runs to a taxi driven by Joey Quong a young Chinese, and never turns back to her home. As soon as Edward discovers that his wife has left him, he visits their friends and neighbors, the Severances, but they tell him that they know nothing about Maggie’s where abouts. From that point onward, Ethel Wilson alternates plots between Maggie and Nell Severance.

Maggie continues to distance herself from her husband and her city, head ing further into the interior of British Columbia, to the village of Hope and the forested banks of the Fraser River. Fishing for her freedom, she forgets about her mistaken second marriage and remembers instead her first marriage to Tom Lloyd, who was killed in action; she also remembers her child hood in New Brunswick, where she learned the skills of fishing. Indeed, the narrative alternates between descriptions of Maggie’s past and Nell’s past, for Maggie continues to write to Nell when she reaches her destination at Three Loon Lake, where she goes to work at Haldar Gunnarsen’s fishing lodge.

Maggie succeeds in restoring Gunnarsen’s dilapidated lodge, but her very success incurs the wrath and jealousy of Vera Gunnarsen, who has never been content with her lot. While Maggie delights in her visions of osprey and eagle, the innocence of kitten and fawn, and teaches young Alan Gunnarsen about the beauty of nature, Vera explodes in jealousy but is soon calmed when Maggie informs her that she bas lost her husband and child. During,...

(The entire section contains 874 words.)

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