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The Porpoise

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  656 ratings  ·  211 reviews
From the Whitbread and Los Angeles Times Prize-winning author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time , a stunningly ambitious, fantastical novel about the theft of female agency by rapacious men and the ways in which archetypal stories can warp history and the present

Mark Haddon's breathtaking novel begins with a harrowing plane crash: Maja, the pregnant
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Hardcover, 294 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Doubleday Books (first published May 9th 2019)
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3.52  · 
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 ·  656 ratings  ·  211 reviews


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Ron Charles
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mark Haddon has written a terrifically exciting novel called “The Porpoise.”

Could we just stop there?

Almost anything else I say about this book risks scattering readers like startled birds. Indeed, if Haddon weren’t the author of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” I would have darted away from his new book, too.

The plot is based on a Greek legend, but not a sexy one like Madeline Miller’s “Circe” was. No, “The Porpoise” reaches back to the story of Apollonius, who exposes a kin
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Paromjit
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
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
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Meike
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, uk
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
Yun
Jul 07, 2019 rated it liked it
The Porpoise starts off with the tale of a widowed father raising his daughter after his wife is killed in an airplane crash. At first, all seems well, but soon it becomes apparent that there is something off about the relationship between father and daughter. In comes a young man named Darius who discerns the secret, and the father drives him away while mortally threatening his life. Darius on the run then morphs into the story of Pericles, the daring adventurer from the Shakespearean play.

This
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Lou
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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Anni
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Paul Fulcher
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
If 2016-18 were the years of modern Shakespeare rewrites of the major plays, notably but not exclusively the Hogarth series, the 2019 trend seems to be Shakespeare plus time travel (see also Sandra Newman’s The Heavens which I read immediately after this) and Pericles (see also Ali Smith’s Spring).

Porpoise is Mark Haddon’s take on Pericles, Prince of Tyre, itself a retelling of a much older story (but normally told of Apollonius). Co-written with George Watkins, isn’t generally regarded as the B
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Lucy Banks
Mar 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Krista
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
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Emily May
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as lost-interest
Shelves: modern-lit, arc



ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🐬
Shannon
Bonkers. This spans all of history and comments on the cyclical nature of humanity. But I’m still not sure what has just happened.
Austin Hill
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
It was a great read! It was a bit of a slow start, but midway through I couldn’t put it down.
Vivian Stevenson
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
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
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SueLucie
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
Sarah
Feb 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bruce Katz
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-fiction
"The Porpoise" is a tour de force. An irresistable torrent of image and story, myth and derring-do, horrible ugliness and soaring grandeur. It is entirely impossible to describe in anything like intelligible terms -- no "elevator pitch," as one perceptive GR reviewer puts it. And yet, it is a wonder. Nearly overpowering in its scope, execution, and ambition, but a wonder nevertheless. The reader has no choice but to surrender him/herself to the author or cast the book aside.

As other GR readers
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Jackie Law
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In recent years there has been an upsurge in contemporary fiction writers re-imagining classic myths and tales. As I have read few of the originals I come at these stories with fresh eyes. Perhaps I miss clever references. Perhaps I out myself as being less well read. I have little time for literary snobbery or being told I should read any work. A book should stand on its own merits whatever its inspiration.

The Porpoise is based on the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Alongside older rendition
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Polly
I really do not know what I make of this book, hence my lack of a star rating.

There are two enormous tone shifts early on after what I found to be a gripping opening chapter. There is a sudden change into a dark incestuous abusive paedophilic theme, and then later a fantasy historical shift. The first change made me literally say “oh god, no” out loud and consider giving up on the book within the first couple of chapters. The second just took a while to get used to.

I went into the book not kno
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Sid Nuncius
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
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Barbm1020
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was completely drawn in by Mark Haddon's spare, straightforward retelling of the story of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. On every page, glimpses of life in Classical times abound, but they are unobtrusive, simply the objects we note on entering an unfamiliar room. The characters experience danger, pain, grueling flight and wrenching loss and sometimes powerless suffering, and their reactions are always believable, even the suggestion that the Old Gods are still around. It's way more than a story of ...more
Eleanor
May 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the sort of book that the Hogarth Shakespeare project should be trying to produce (interestingly, he was apparently asked to write it for them, and ended up pulling out of the project due to creative differences). Haddon moves from present-day privilege (globally connected aristocratic businessmen certainly have power equivalent to autocratic monarchs) to the ancient Mediterranean to a Tudor London where George Wilkins–Shakespeare’s co-writer on Pericles, the obscure play that this novel ...more
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
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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
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Tara
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alan
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘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 Emilia.”’

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 wh
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Jessica Hinton
I am a huge fan of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. It's an amazingly powerful book (and, on a side-note - the adaptation for theater is also top drawer!) I've not read any of Haddon's other books and I went into this knowing absolutely nothing about it. So first up - it's absolutely nothing like 'The Curious incident'. But that's OK, I massively admire authors that write across multiple genres. The Porpoise starts with a bang and I was utterly hooked. The way the plane crash i ...more
Lel Budge
The Porpoise by far Mark Haddon's is a unique tale inspired by Shakespeare's Pericles…..and Greek mythology.

I found it to be well written, but a difficult read with the changes from myth to reality. It also has incest and paedophilia topics, which I found particularly difficult and disturbing. It is a haunting, ethereal read and certainly different.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review

#Ne
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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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