The Porpoise by Mark Haddon
What’s it about?
This book is based on the ancient story of Antiochus. Mark Haddon has chosen to use the story in a very different way. The book begins in the present day with a plane crash. A very pregnant Maja is traveling on the plane and is gravely injured in an accident. Maja is kept alive just along enough to give birth to a young girl. Philippe (Maja’s wealthy and powerful husband) is grief stricken. As the girl grows older Philippe seems to view his daughter, Angelica, as an object meant for his pleasure. Much like in the earlier story of Antiochus, an adventurer comes along and discovers Philippe's secret. Just when we are hooked on this story (about page 80) we are introduced to new characters in a similar story- but this story is happening in ancient times. William Shakespeare once reimagined the story of Antiochus in a play he wrote. In Shakespeare's play Pericles is the young adventurer who discovers the secret. So now in Mark Haddon's story we meet a new Pericles. Sound confusing? Wait until Mark Haddon throws in the character of William Shakespeare...
What did it make me think about?
I thought about how much life has changed since we believed in mythology- and how much it has stayed the same. Also, how privilege has always had the ability to shelter the powerful from the consequences of their own actions. So- some really great themes. That Mark Haddon brings this all together is a testament to his skill as a writer!
Should I read it?
This book was really disjointed so I was surprised at how much I still liked it. The first 80 pages went by quickly and I was sorry to leave that storyline. However, I quickly became interested in story number two. I could have done without the William Shakespeare part- but what do I know? This book is ambitious and will be liked by some and probably hated by others. I am firmly in the favorable category.
If you liked this try?
Circe by Madeline Miller
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His yeats of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeymii
The Buried Giant by Kazoo Ishiguro
So maybe it's just me? Lots of critics loved it....
“Exhilarating…A wildly imagined, head-spinning, deeply intelligent novel.” – The New York Times Book Review
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH BY:
Goodreads • Lithub • Refinery29 • InStyle • HelloGiggles • Real Simple • Parade • PureWow • Apple Books • Bustle
best of winter/spring 2019
best of summer/ fall 2018
best of winter/spring 2017-18
best of spring/summer 2017
best of winter
best of summer 2014
last spring favorites
on my nightstand
edge of your seat
― Charles William Eliot
3 to 4- I found some aspect of this book redeeming but would not recommend it.
5 to 6- I really enjoyed something about this book (characters, plot, meaning etc.) but it was uneven. Some aspects were stronger than others.
7 to 8- It was a good book. I liked lots of aspects of this book. I would recommend it.
9 to 10- I was sorry to turn the last page. I highly recommend this book!