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The Porpoise: A Novel by Mark Haddon
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The Porpoise: A Novel (edition 2019)

by Mark Haddon (Author)

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15713119,556 (3.64)3
" 'I really am so very, very sorry about this,' he says, in an oddly formal voice... They strike the side of a grain silo. They are travelling at seventy miles per hour. A newborn baby is the sole survivor of a terrifying plane crash. She is raised in wealthy isolation by an overprotective father. She knows nothing of the rumours about a beautiful young woman, hidden from the world. When a suitor visits, he understands far more than he should. Forced to run for his life, he escapes aboard The Porpoise, an assassin on his tail... So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears. A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; a novel that almost drowns in grief yet swims ashore; in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler's hand, and ghost women with lampreys' teeth drag a man to hell - and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
Member:RivieraBeach
Title:The Porpoise: A Novel
Authors:Mark Haddon (Author)
Info:Doubleday (2019), Edition: 1st Edition, 320 pages
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The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

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A masterpiece of mythic fiction. A sweeping saga told across times and lives-intersecting, beginning with a young woman and her closed-in upbringing with her over affectionate father. Through her imagination and limited perceived understanding of the world, we travel through history to journey with Pericles and his troubled life story, a woman who comes back from the dead to assume a spiritual role in a small society, to betrayals, intrigue, adventure, and tragedy, and the acceptance of a simple life of peace. Great writing from an award winning Contemporary Literary Fiction author.
  DevilStateDan | Jan 25, 2020 |
An interesting project. Haddon fuses two storylines: one contemporary, the other a retelling of Apollonius of Tyre and the effect is unexpectedly engaging.

There were some long stretches where I felt the two tales didn't cohere as well as they could and, frankly, the emotional arc of bad feelings about bad behavior was a exhausting. The story left me a little bruised and I'm not certain I was compensated fairly.

Those criticisms aside there is no denying this is a literary page turner. Haddon's prose is tight and at times graceful. His characters are intriguing and the scenes of violence effective. It's a good read. I'm just not sure I liked it very much. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
An interesting project. Haddon fuses two storylines: one contemporary, the other a retelling of Apollonius of Tyre and the effect is unexpectedly engaging.

There were some long stretches where I felt the two tales didn't cohere as well as they could and, frankly, the emotional arc of bad feelings about bad behavior was a exhausting. The story left me a little bruised and I'm not certain I was compensated fairly.

Those criticisms aside there is no denying this is a literary page turner. Haddon's prose is tight and at times graceful. His characters are intriguing and the scenes of violence effective. It's a good read. I'm just not sure I liked it very much. ( )
  Adrian_Astur_Alvarez | Dec 3, 2019 |
The only thing I knew about this book before I started reading it was that I liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by the same author. If this were as good as that, I'd have really enjoyed it.

And perhaps, ultimately, it was as good but I will never know. Early in the book is an accident which the reader is well-prepared to see coming. But around 10% into the book, the subject, involving a child, became reprehensible to me. It angered and upset me that the plot took that turn. Perhaps the book would have drawn me into it had I read further, but I couldn't. This is one of my few DNFs.
1 vote TooBusyReading | Aug 31, 2019 |
Mark Haddon’s fourth novel begins compellingly, with the crash of a small plane carrying three passengers, one of which is a beautiful and famous movie actress named Maja, who is pregnant. When the plane goes down on a remote farm in France, a doctor who witnesses the crash and hurries to the scene delivers Maja’s baby alive, but Maja and the others perish. Maja’s husband, ultra-rich Philippe (who is not on the plane), names his daughter Angelica. Devastated by the loss of his wife, Philippe raises Angelica in a cocoon, isolating her from the outside world (he can do this because he is so wealthy). Later, as she enters her teens, he becomes sexually obsessed with her and determined to keep her to himself. Enter Darius, a young man whose late father was an art dealer who had frequent dealings with Philippe. When Darius visits Philippe at his villa hoping to make a sale, he meets Angelica and, sensing tension between father and daughter and something desperate and pleading in Angelica’s demeanor, he resolves to steal the beautiful and naïve teenage girl away. But his clumsy rescue attempt is thwarted. Though injured, he manages to narrowly escape Philippe’s vengeful fury and leave the country by sea. At this point the story morphs into something else altogether. Darius transforms into Pericles, Prince of Tyre, who, in Haddon’s retelling of Shakespeare’s play, marries a princess, loses her but gains a daughter, whom he then abandons, and spends the novel fleeing the wrath of an unknown aggressor, battling the ennui brought about by the death of his wife, and punishing himself for leaving his daughter to be raised by others. The action of this portion of the story takes place in a geographical region and chronological period that resembles the Mediterranean several hundred, or perhaps thousand, years in the past, and this is where the narrative remains for most of what’s left of the book, exceptions being scenes that update Philippe and Angelica’s sordid tale, and a couple of whimsical interactions between Shakespeare and his collaborator on Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a writer and inn-keeper named George Wilkins. To say that The Porpoise is uniquely challenging is a gross understatement. The story it tells is anything but straightforward, it asks the reader to abandon commonly held notions of what a novel is and does, it takes off on numerous unexpected flights of fancy, and on an almost continuous basis raises questions about the author’s intentions. It is also beautifully written, filled with stunning visuals and passages that hauntingly evoke the horrors and wonders of the natural and man-made worlds. Haddon’s richly lyrical prose gives each character, each action sequence, every room interior and exterior setting a crystalline immediacy. Occasionally a disturbing noir fantasy, at other times a compulsively readable if rambling adventure story, The Porpoise ultimately comes across as a sort of puzzle, one posed by the author but without any guarantee that all the pieces needed to solve the puzzle are present. Some readers will appreciate this. But it’s possible others won’t. Apparently Mark Haddon is willing to take that risk. ( )
  icolford | Aug 26, 2019 |
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