The Porpoise was published Thursday 9th May. The publisher Vintage, allowed me an ARC via Net-Galley. The only work I’ve read by Mark Haddon was the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, so I wondered how this (adult) fiction would compare. He’s been writing lots of books, mind; this was just one that caught my eye. I struggled with it… but still counted it towards my New Release Challenge.
by Mark Haddon
‘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; that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; 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.
If you pick up this book because you enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mr Haddon, then please check the reviews of The Porpoise. It is not at all in the same vein.
The Porpoise is a ship, not a creature.
The story twists between several strands of increasingly dysfunctional characters, in increasingly distasteful situations.
The blurb is somewhat intriguing, but (unless it changes), it does not address the madness and mayhem, even if beautifully and lyrically described, that is the Pericles myth, which is the basis for the book.
On the other hand, you may be of a more literary bent than me, and find it fascinating.
I expect it will be praised by those who understand these things, but I did not enjoy it, and dnf’d at 48%.
The cover’s gorgeous, though.