Talking life and near death along a South Coast river

Sep 10, 2019


WAREHAM -- It’s been 46 years since Holly FitzGerald and her husband survived near starvation while stranded on a raft deep in the Amazon jungle. 

On Sunday, with the sparkling Weweantic River in West Wareham as backdrop, the Dartmouth woman told participants in the South Coast Almanac’s “walking book club” about the debonair South American businessman who had suggested the raft trip. (Did he have evil intent or was he just ignorant?) Of the bees and mosquitoes and fire ants that plagued the stranded couple. (You never get used to it.) And of the process of writing her recently published “Ruthless River.” (It took years. FitzGerald became a published author at the age of 71.)

The Sept. 8 gathering had been planned for months, but came shortly after news broke that movie rights to “Ruthless River” had been optioned to producer Matt Charman, who co-wrote “Bridge of Spies.”

FitzGerald acknowledged that there are a lot of steps between optioning a book’s rights and opening night in a movie theater. But she hopes this one makes it all the way.

Alongside the author on Sunday, Corey Nuffer of the South Coast Almanac displayed a photo of Holly and husband Gerald “Fitz” Fitzgerald, looking happy and healthy shortly before entering the Amazon. The book contains photos of the gaunt couple shortly after their rescue. While the FitzGeralds travelled with a camera, there are no photos of the intervening weeks. “We didn’t expect to make it out,” FitzGerald explained.

The Sunday gathering, combining book discussion with a short walk to the Horseshoe Mill Dam and beyond in West Wareham, is part of an ongoing effort by the magazine to combine local literature with local points of interest.

While acknowledging that the Weweantic is much tamer than the Amazon, Publisher Marlissa Briggett said she selected the Weweantic because it is longest of all the rivers draining into Buzzards Bay.

Perhaps fittingly, there was a bit of natural violence on the sideline of the book club as one participant happened upon a large snake wrestling a just-caught eel.