The High Mountains of Portugal

The High Mountains of Portugal

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * "Fifteen years after The Life of Pi, Yann Martel is taking us on another long journey. Fans of his Man Booker Prize-winning novel will recognize familiar themes from that seafaring phenomenon, but the itinerary in this imaginative new book is entirely fresh. . . . Martel's writing has never been more charming."--Ron Charles, The Washington Post

In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that--if he can find it--would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe's earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.
 
Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás's quest.
 
Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.
 
The High Mountains of Portugal --part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable--offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century--and through the human soul.

Praise for The High Mountains of Portugal
 
"Just as ambitious, just as clever, just as existential and spiritual [as Life of Pi ] . . . a book that rewards your attention . . . an excellent book club choice." -- San Francisco Chronicle
 
"There's no denying the simple pleasures to be had in The High Mountains of Portugal ." -- Chicago Tribune
 
"I took away indelible images from High Mountains, enchanting and disturbing at the same time: the motorcar hitting obstacle after obstacle as it gradually, comically falls to pieces (as does its driver), or the ape as he swings his way across the rooftops of a Portuguese village. As whimsical as Martel's magic realism can be, grief informs every step of the book's three journeys. In the course of the novel we burrow ever further into the heart of an ape, pure and threatening at once, our precursor, ourselves. You must change your life." --NPR
 
"Refreshing, surprising and filled with sparkling moments of humor and insight." -- The Dallas Morning News

"We're fortunate to have brilliant writers using their fiction to meditate on a paradox we need urgently to consider--the unbridgeable gap and the unbreakable bond between human and animal, our impossible self-alienation from our world. . . . [Martel's] semi-surreal, semi-absurdist mode is well suited to exploring the paradox. The moral and spiritual implications of his tale have, in the end, a quality of haunting tenderness." --Ursula K. Le Guin, The Guardian

"[Martel packs] his inventive novel with beguiling ideas. What connects an inept curator to a haunted pathologist to a smitten politician across more than seventy-five years is the author's ability to conjure up something uncanny at the end." -- The Boston Globe
 
"A fine home, and story, in which to find oneself." --Minneapolis Star Tribune
Publisher: New York :, Spiegel & Grau,, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812997170
0812997174
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 332 pages ; 22 cm

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kimh454
May 02, 2017

A sad book. But a wonderful one.

I welcomed the library reviews to warn me that this was 3 short stories, vaguely connected. By not trying to make sense of the plot I was better able to appreciate the pathos of this story of grief suffered by fathers who have lost their sons and the suggestion of a resolution in the returning Canadians whose father-son relationship resolves in the high mountains of their ancestral village. I could not finish Life of Pi but I am glad I had a chance to read another of Martel's books and find some enjoyment in his unusual writing style.

s
spiderfelt_0
Jan 30, 2017

This book left me feeling like there was something I was missing. The description of a man learning to drive one of the first cars through remote villages was farcical until it turned tragic. The 2nd story veered into surrealism and the 3rd brought the first two together but left me hanging, wondering whether I had not paid close enough attention to the details or wasn't smart enough to understand the allegory.

VaughanPLUrszula Jan 23, 2017

This book spans from the early 1900's to the mid-80's and presents three stories linked by grief, chimpanzees, and the High Mountains of Portugal. Although I appreciated the intricate connections and themes explored within the stories, I found parts 2 & 3 more compelling than the lengthy part 1. Grief and making sense of living on are portrayed in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner.

s
sneha
Jan 09, 2017

I enjoyed this book immensely. Unlike some other commenters, I didn't mind that the book didn't have a clear plot. I loved all the detailed descriptions -- about how an early automobile works, analysis of Agatha Christie, etc -- and found the bits of connection between the three sections of the book intriguing. No, not all your questions about the plot will be answered, but that is part of the charm and mystery of this book.

KHCPL_Mikayla Dec 26, 2016

This was definitely a unique novel. Three stories set into one, each with distinctive, interesting characters that all had very different lives. The characterization and the slow pace were the most distinct aspects of Martel's novel, and this book would be good for people who like vivid settings, slow pace (only 3 chapters, each more like its own short story), and a wide range of characters.

b
brangwinn
Oct 16, 2016

I had high expectations of this book, sadly I finished the book not finding what I was expecting. The writing is excellent, but the three separate stories didn’t resonate with me. I guess it was the subject. One of my favorite aspects of fiction is quirky, well-developed characters and this book had many. I kept reading thinking the stories would take me to a satisifying end. Instead I ended each story frustrated with the development. Maybe that’s the way Martel planned it, the reader’s feeling equal that of the main character.

p
pkerr
Oct 08, 2016

I loved the Life of Pi, in fact read it twice. In one word this book was disappointing.

multcolib_alisonk Sep 08, 2016

This set of three loosely linked novellas had me a bit confused. For one thing, it took me a while to understand that this wasn't a full length novel, as I was listening to the audio book. At times the narrative made me incredulous, the magic realism and absurdity aside; but then I'd get into the story and was bereft when one story ended and the next began.
That being said, I've been thinking about the book for weeks now, and now I'm inspired to visit this area of Portugal. The final novella was especially thought-provoking, raising questions about how humans and animals experience time, and how we approach death. So with all those caveats in mind, I recommend it!

j
JANET FLAPAN
Aug 16, 2016

If you liked 'The Life of Pi' you'll like this one. It's also about a strange journey, three of them, over 4 centuries. I wanted to find out what happened next so I kept going and also found the main characters interesting and wanted to know what happened to them. You may come away from this book with some questions unanswered.

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