Reviews & Testimonials for The Contest

In The Contest, a new voice in the annals of fly fishing comes to the fore. James Hurley crafts a soul-searching tale about friendship and the pursuit of perfection regardless of personal cost.

In a deftly interwoven tale that explores the camaraderie and sportsmanship among anglers, firmly rooted in the tradition of The River Why and A River Runs Through It, The Contest uses the metaphor of fly fishing to explore the deeper significance of being human.

Steven Pfarrer; Hampshire Life magazine—Book Bag;

                The Contest is not just an exploration of the mystique of fly fishing but a story that “challenges the wisdom of chasing perfection, and instead encourages the reader to revel in life’s most important moments, however brief or passing”.

Tinky Weisblat; The Recorder—Greenfield Massachusetts;

               "It took me only a few pages to fall in love with the author’s writing and his story—and to realize that The Contest is about a lot more than fly fishing. It’s about people’s relationships to each other and to nature. The novel is funny, imaginative, and touching."

                "They (The Contest participants) learn to nourish the best in themselves, forgive the foibles of others, and savor each moment of life. These are lesson we can all embrace, whether we fish or not."

Tom Atwell; The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram;

                "The Contest changes the men taking part in it, changes the way they fish and think about fishing and even changes how they think about themselves, each other, morality and life itself."


Kathy Scott; Flyfishing in Maine (;

               "The Contest paints a compelling picture of an angler’s idyll. Obviously skilled with the written word, Hurley takes us from that ideal to an intimate look at the human condition."


George's Outdoor News--Bangor Daily News;

                "the novel explores, in a fascinating way, the wisdom of chasing perfection. A compelling   read..."

                 "I hooked my first fish on page 50, and after that, I couldn't leave the water."

                 "It's about trout, fishing, river ecology and conservation, and friendships, with some important an  insightful lessons of life rising to the surface."

Bushnell on Books;

               "This is more an intricate morality play than a treatise about fly fishing…"

               "Hurley is a crafty writer…"

                "This is an excellent story of men and fish and how to best to enjoy both."

Kevin McKay; Maine Fly Fish (;

                "If you are a fly fisherman or not, The Contest by James Hurley, will get you thinking about life and the journey we all take along the way."

                "The Contest is a great read and I highly recommend it if you are a fly fisherman or not. James Hurley tells a great story and is a great writer."


Reviews & Testimonials

for Spirit of the Sycamore

“James Hurley’s Spirit of the Sycamore is a wonderfully compelling story of universal truths and conflicts of self, family, politics, and power during Vermont’s historical struggle as an independent territory and the American Revolution. The Sycamore also is a powerful symbol of strength, serenity, and survival where the art and love of angling is cast and tangled with relationships, English loyalties, and Puritan work ethics. A highly recommended read!”

                                               Steven Arnold…Attorney and counselor at Law, West Hartford, Connecticut

“When I finished reading Spirit of the Sycamore I realized that throughout this lyrical piece of elegant prose I was on a journey. Isaak Greenhart represents the patriot soldier, the ‘leather apron’ craftsperson and the ‘savvied’ outdoorsman. But as well, he is also a loyal friend and an astute politician who himself is on a journey (or maybe a vision quest) to find love, solitude and…independence…

Hurley weaves Isaak’s life into an accurate historical documentation of that time. The passions are vibrant, the arguments are heated, and the loyalties define the people. The political dichotomy is complex with issues and opinions that divide families and alienate friends…

Angling (fly fishing)…with its purity and solitude became the tool with which Isaak developed friendships, but it was also where he could go to focus his life and plan his future…it is in this part of the novel where Hurley shows one of his strengths as a writer. Another literary strength that Hurley displays in this book is his very artful dialog. The discussions are intricately woven in and out of the descriptive passages…throughout the book the dialogs are vibrant and meaningful…”

                                                                                                               Ed Legare, M. Ed., Archer, Florida

“Sycamore is a compelling read that shows a great facility with both history and human nature, as well as this particular geography we call Northern New England. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing it.

                                                                                Mark Fitzsimmons, Director of Community Programs,

                                                                                Vermont Humanities Council