Saturday, 12 March 2016

The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

This book is part of the challenge What’s in a Name hosted by Wormhole, the first entry being a country in the title. It is also part of the challenge Full House Reading Challenge 2016 hosted by Book Date, relating to a book published in 2016. 

A couple of weeks ago I went to Passa Porta here in Brussels to meet up with Yann Martel. He was here to promote his new novel The High Mountains of Portugal. I wrote about the very interesting interview in an earlier post (see link under name). 

I have now finished his new book. I was not overenthusiastic about his Life of Pi, even if I might see it differently now, after hearing him talk about his writing, his thoughts and his way of seeing the world. Maybe I would have read and interpreted his new book differently if I had not heard his ideas behind the stories. Nevertheless, I loved his new book.

The novel is divided into three parts, taking place in 1904, 1939 and 1989. They are about three persons, in different times, with the stories coming together in the end. Although you know the stories are somehow connected, it is not obvious how when reading them. The three persons, men, have lost someone they loved and are trying to cope with the world without their loved ones. They do it in different ways, but the common theme is that they somehow end up in the high mountains of Portugal. Each story is very engaging, and not clear from the start where it will end.

During the interview he told us about his theory that an Agatha Christie story and the Gospels have a lot in common. This is part of the second story in the book, and it is a very interesting point of view. The third story involves a chimpanzee, and as we know from Life of Pi, Martel has a special relationship with animals. He thinks they are living in the present and anything past and future is not important for them. This is especially obvious in the last story and gives you something to think about when it comes to priorities in our lives. 

I really loved these stories. They are told in a loving way, rather funny in between the more serious parts. It was like going on a trip, being a silent observer, and part of the stories. I could identify myself with the characters, their sufferings and their final destiny. A somewhat different book that stays with you long after it is finished. 


  1. I'm very happy to see you liked it. I bought it as soon as it came out on paperback (for obvious reasons :P) but I've been reading disappointing reviews.

    1. Well, I like it better than 'Life of Pi'. I don't know if I am affected by hearing him tell us about the story, and therefor liked it more than I would have done otherwise. But, I am not too sure. I found the three stories interesting and in the end how they all come together. And then of course; the enchanting place of the High Mountains of Portugal! I have to go there sometime! Hope you like it. Keep me posted when you have read it.