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The Porpoise

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  85 reviews
‘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 wo
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 9th 2019 by Chatto Windus
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  128 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Amalia Gavea
My first experience with Mark Haddon's writing was a short story included in the marvelous collection ''8 Ghosts''. That story was the only one I didn't like but I decided to give him a chance when ''The Porpoise'' came my way. Unfortunately, I found out that we don't match.

''Pericles'' has never been one my favourite Shakespeare plays. Nevertheless, when you decide to reimagine one of his plays, you need to be careful. In my opinion, Haddon doesn't have the chops to carry out such a task. ''Per
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mark Haddon's latest novel moves into markedly different territory from his previous work, it shifts into different time periods, from the modern to more ancient times, with strong elements of the fantastical. Haddon draws on Greek mythology, the story of Appolonius and Shakespeare's Pericles, reworking them but with differences, and for those readers unfamiliar with them, it will pay to become acquainted with at least the broad outlines of what happens in them prior to reading this. The novel h ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, 2019-read
This book is Haddon's contribution to the already pretty vast canon of reworkings of the Appolinus / Apollonius tale - illustrous authors like Gower, Wilkins and Shakespeare already took the ancient Greek material and remixed it, always slightly changing the plot, introducing new characters and twisting the themes (see "Pericles" and "Emaré", e.g.). Haddon now sets out to create a pastiche, connecting and partially overwriting what's already out there with his own ideas. He lets his characters w ...more
Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore
My thanks to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for a review copy of this book.

Part of the description of this book on NetGalley was this:

“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 tai
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mark Haddon has written widely differing kinds of novels and here we find the sort of experimental treatment displayed his short story collection ‘The Pier Falls and other Stories', which marked such a departure from his previous best-selling work.
Tragedy, revenge and retribution are given a spell-binding modern day twist in this fantastical re-working of an ancient Greek myth.
Haddon is a master storyteller and his use of imagery is sublime (e.g. 'time has turned to toffee'). However, be warned
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Porpoise is by far Mark Haddon's strangest and most unique novel, and that's exactly what I loved about it. From the beginning, you are launched head first into the action which is quite a shock to the system. It is apparently inspired by Pericles, Prince of Tyre, written in part by Shakespeare, so those who enjoy Greek Mythology will likely find much to love here. Exquisitely written, fascinating and a highly original and dramatic story which broaches some dark and disturbing topics, this i ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, arc
The Porpoise is beautiful – polished oak, polished brass, everything singing with little bursts of sunlight. There is a ship's wheel with protruding handles at which you could stand and be Barbarossa or Vasco da Gama, there are cream canvas sails which belly and ripple and slap, there are portholes and winches, there are proper ropes of twisted sisal.

The Porpoise is a book that's very of this moment: It could pass as a volume in the Hogarth Shakespeare Series (as a modern-set retelling of Pericl
Emily May
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, modern-lit

ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🐬
Lucy Banks
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Beautifully different, ethereal and drifting; clever writing indeed.

I do so like it when authors take risks. As far as I'm concerned, these are the books that last - the ones that dare to deliver something thought-provoking, challenging and 'different'.

The Porpoise is all of those things, and very beautifully written too.

It starts with a plane crash and a death. A baby is left alone with her doting father, who turns
Bonkers. This spans all of history and comments on the cyclical nature of humanity. But I’m still not sure what has just happened.
Vivian Stevenson
Thank you to Doubleday Books & Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review!

I have not read any other books by Mark Haddon, but I have heard good things. I had no idea he wrote a new one, and I figured I would give it a shot.
Unfortunately, I really didn't care for it. His writing is great. I had no issues with his writing. It was the story. I was expecting something different than this, and it just didn't click with me. The characters were all very bland, and I w
Mar 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I enjoyed this book as much for the research it prompted me to do into the story of Pericles of Tyre in its various permutations as for reading the different strands Mark Haddon weaves together here. The opening chapters about Angelica, her father and her would-be suitor Darius catch the attention straightaway but this strand is overwhelmed by the larger story, leaving me with the feeling (as I think the author intended) that the bulk of the book is a figment of one of the characters’ imaginatio ...more
Sid Nuncius
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I thought The Porpoise was very good in many ways, but I did have some reservations.

It is, at heart, a re-telling of the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. However, it begins in the present day when a very rich man’s newborn daughter, Angelica, is the sole survivor of a plane crash which kills his wife. We get the story of Angelica’s growing up in the shadow of her father’s obsession with her...which then morphs into the tale of Pericles in ancient times with occasional brief cuts back to Angeli
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: edelweiss
Jemima Pett
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
Kim Dyer
Feb 17, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
DNF at 33%

Sorry. I tried so hard but this book was not what I was expecting. It's not a coming-of-age story, as I hoped. In fact, it follows the plot of its source material - Pericles - perhaps a little too closely. It's depiction of child abuse and paedophilia made me rather uncomfortable, as did the fact that the novel did not seem to be offering much hope of escape for the victim.

Perhaps I will give this novel another try when I'm in a better place and revise this review, but I don't think th
Feb 27, 2019 rated it did not like it
Well that was not what I was expecting! I got into the first part of the book - intrigued by what was going to happen to Angelica - when suddenly I was taken to Ancient Greece. I went along with it - Pericles can be interesting - and then we were whisked somewhere else. I am afraid that there was too much to-ing and fro-ing, and perhaps too much description with not enough action, and my mind wandered. I then started skim reading and we all know where that ends, yes, giving up.
Jane Hunt
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. I like literary fiction because if written well, it explores ordinary lives and finds the extraordinary. Characters have to be realistic and complex for this to work.

This is a different type of literary fiction, the characters are not ordinary, but rich, hedonistic and seemingly living outside the moral code ordinary mortals abide by. There is also large sections of the story where the characters are mythical, and you are unsure whether thi
Breakaway Reviewers
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Weird but astonishingly beautiful!

Readers are warned this is not anything like The Curious Incident of The Dog In the Night-Time. However, the writing alone should encourage you to read this very bizarre twisted plot.

Maja is thirty-seven weeks pregnant when she leaves her husband Philippe to fly from Bellevue Champillon back to the couple’s home in Winchester. Unfortunately, the pilot of the Piper Warrior is not fully qualified and he becomes disorientated, causing them to crash into a farm bui
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I tried very hard to like this book more than I did but I just couldn’t come to terms with it at all. I love The author so I did persevere till the end but I am afraid that it just wasn’t for me, I can’t fault the writing at all I just found my attention wandering with the storyline and some of the subject matter was uncomfortable for me. All in all this just was a book that others may like a lot more than I did but still deserving of 3 stars from me .
My thanks to NetGalley, Mark Haddon and Rand
Nigel Masterton
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Who would expect a novel, based on the myth of Pericles, to be a page turner? But this is just what Mark Haddon succeeds in doing with this excellent book "The Porpoise". The story starts in the 20th century where a tragedy is about to unfold that changes for ever, the life of Angelique and, Phillippe, her wealthy father. Haddon then seamlessly blends the evolving story into that of Pericles and his endless travels in search of the daughter he once abandoned. Along the way Haddon takes us on a g ...more
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Mark Haddon and this was completely a change of character from his usual work but I really enjoyed it. But given the influences and based on mythology I should have known I’d enjoy it, I loved the way the characters stories twisted together , a really enjoyable read

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest review
Tina Price
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book.

A complex, brilliant tour de force, entrancing writing which will sweep you into this multi layered world of myth, quest and adventure. I don't want to say more for fear of ruining this absolute treat.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Modern day – a man loses his wife in a plane crash, but his unborn daughter survives. He becomes obsessed with Angelica, his obsession surpassing society’s acceptable boundaries, leading to incest. Trapped by her father’s wealth and isolated from society due to his refusal for her to engage with the outside world, Angelica is desperate for rescue.

Enter Darius, son of a business colleague of her father. A chance meeting leaves him with a compelling need to see Angelica again – however, an attempt
Leanne Neale
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Porpoise explores the complexities of a young girl’s tormented mind through her love of literature. Having escaped not a plane crash which killed her mother, Marina is brought up by an over-protective father who, whilst indulging her every whim, cannot bear to allow her to be a part of a society outside of the suffocating world in which she is cocooned. With the realisation of her father’s transgressions, Marina seeks the sanctuary of escape.
Daniel Kilby
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The prose is absolutely beautiful in this meditation on the Pericles story, with its modern-day prologue woven through the text. The ending is absolutely heart breaking. #ThePorpoise #NetGalley
Katy Wheatley
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book fried my mind rather. I have read everything Mark Haddon has written and every time it's safe to say he surprises me. The subject matter, the style, everything differs so widely from thing to thing. What's true and constant is his absolute skill. The Pier Falls, which is the last thing of his I read, is one of the best things I have ever read. This is on a par with that. It's a complex, difficult story. The subject matter is hard to read about and the story shifts in time over and over ...more
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was phenomenal.
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
‘There was a king’s daughter who married a prince and they loved one another beyond measure. It happened a long time ago and far away and there is nothing to connect that woman to the woman sitting here on the terrace under the vines.
She says, “My name is Emila.”’

If you come to this having read Haddon’s ‘Curious Incident…’ then prepare for something quite, quite different. It takes a brave man to write a novel that takes in incest, Shakespeare’s ghost, Greek myth and female empowerment, and wha
S.J. Higbee
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Be warned – if you pick this one looking for more of the same regarding The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, then you’ll be disappointed. This is nothing like it, particularly the immersive first-person viewpoint that made Christopher sing off the page. This book is told throughout in omniscient viewpoint – the storyteller’s point of view. While we do spend short periods in the head of various characters, they are not what powers this story – and we are regularly given information ...more
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Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.

In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-t
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