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The Porpoise

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,928 ratings  ·  898 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,
Hardcover, 294 pages
Published June 18th 2019 by Doubleday Books (first published May 9th 2019)
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Miss Bookiverse I think it was an attempt to make this even more intertextual/metafictional because Shakespeare and Wilkins wrote Pericles, Prince of Tyre, an adaptio…moreI think it was an attempt to make this even more intertextual/metafictional because Shakespeare and Wilkins wrote Pericles, Prince of Tyre, an adaption of the Apollonius tale the book is based on. Also, learning more about Wilkins and his misogyny was a contrast to the female empowerment many of the women experience in the book. I thought that whole part felt a bit disjointed though and I didn't much care for it either.(less)
Miss Bookiverse Angelica's storyline is a modern mirror of the ancient tale of Pericles/Apollonius of Tyre. Plot copied from Wikipedia: "In most versions, the eponymo…moreAngelica's storyline is a modern mirror of the ancient tale of Pericles/Apollonius of Tyre. Plot copied from Wikipedia: "In most versions, the eponymous hero is hunted and persecuted after he reveals Antiochus of Antioch's incestuous relationship with his daughter. After many travels and adventures, in which Apollonius loses both his wife and his daughter and thinks them both dead, he is eventually reunited with his family through unlikely circumstances or intercession by gods."

Antiochus is Philippe in this case and after Darius flees from his wrath he turns into Pericles and the story becomes more reminiscent of its ancient version.(less)

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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
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
Now Nominated for the Goldsmiths Prize 2019
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 w
Peter Boyle
I finished this strange novel a few days ago and I still don't know what to make of it. Maybe Mark Haddon is trying his best to distance himself from The Curious Incident - his subsequent works have all been wildly different. This might be his most unusual effort to date.

It begins with a plane crash. Phillipe, a wealthy businessman, loses his wife, but the baby she is carrying survives. Naming her Angelica, Phillipe raises her in isolation and as she grows older he begins to abuse her. Angelica
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
As novels go, The Porpoise is one of the weirder ones I've encountered. How could it not be, considering it contains narratives set in the present day, ancient Greece, and Elizabethan England (each having something to do with the other). Not to mention (but I will) some magical realism. Not to mention jumpy storylines that are not always easy to track without GPS.

If you like a clean plot, beware. You're more likely to find value in stretches of pretty writing (Haddon being a poet, too). I picked
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.

Lou (nonfiction fiend)
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
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
I read this book due to its shortlisting for the 2019 Goldsmith Prize. I had previously borrowed it from the library close to the announcement of the 2019 Booker longlist – but reading review of it and seeing it not make the longlist I returned it unread.

I was glad that the Goldsmith bought me back to the book (and the library) as I realised that I had read all of the author’s previous adult novels.

His first novel – “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” was of course hugely (and in
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize 2019

This was my first experience of reading Haddon, thanks to the Goldsmiths Prize. I found this book interesting and enjoyable, but the disparate parts did not coalesce as much as I had hoped. The starting point is the play Pericles, Prince of Tyre, which is conventionally attributed to Shakespeare and the much lesser known George Wilkins. This story has a complicated history stretching much further back, and some of these older versions also inspired elemen
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
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
Paul Fulcher
Now shortlisted for the 2019 Goldsmiths Prize - and the one book I am surprised to see on the list.

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 (
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
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.
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, 2019
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
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Porpoise is the fourth novel by award-winning British author, Mark Haddon and is a retelling of the Greek legend of Apollonius. Newborn Angelica is the only survivor of a small plane crash. Her wealthy father Philippe, paralysed by grief at the loss of his wife, becomes reclusive, keeping Angelica in isolation. At first this is from a paranoia about her safety, but then it is his unhealthy obsession, his inappropriate attentions that he needs to hide from the world. And, as she matures, Ange ...more
Emily May
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as lost-interest
Shelves: arc, modern-lit

ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🐬
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019, 2019-goldsmiths
”The novel exists in a world where times, locations, languages and cultures are laid one over the other, with a cavalier disregard for historical and geographical fact…”
(Taken from the closing acknowledgements).

First an admission. I had decided not to bother reading this book until it was shortlisted for the Goldsmith’s Prize. At that point, my commitment to reading all shortlisted books kicked in and overrode my initial hesitation.

I am not entirely sorry I changed my mind. But I am not wildly e
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 wasn'
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019-odyssey, fantasy
It just didn't gel.

Don't care if you approach it from a magical realism or reincarnation point of view, this just doesn't connect the three disparate storylines adequately. Not being able to weave them together and leave all three lines with vague endings doesn't make it clever, it means the author couldn't get them to work, so they'll just let the reader try and connect the dots.


Ah, no.

I still cannot for the life of me figure out if the one storyline was suppose to ancient Greece like
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
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
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great challenge for the brain cells at times, a bracer for New Year's Day I truly welcomed. There is a lot to track between real day events and the weaving of fable so I must admit I had to sigh now and then as the narrative shifted.
Gabino Iglesias writing for NPR says: "Mark Haddon's latest novel, The Porpoise, inhabits a strange interstitial space between myth, fantasy, tragedy, and adventure."
That's the truth in capsule.
A very good read to start the year with!

Library Loan
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.
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
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
I grew tired of this pretty quickly. The back-and-forth between myth, fantasy, and "reality" was tedious. It felt overly indulgent and chaotic; as if Haddon was trying to explore as much as possible in this fictional realm, which had been adapted from a Shakespeare play, which had been adapted from a Greek myth. So fiction within fiction within fiction. And the result. A mess. My biggest disappointment was in all the characters. If there had been one character that felt more than a blank slate, ...more
Susan (aka Just My Op)
The only thing I knew about this book before I started reading it was that I liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by the same author. If this were as good as that, I'd have really enjoyed it.

And perhaps, ultimately, it was as good but I will never know. Early in the book is an accident which the reader is well-prepared to see coming. But around 10% into the book, the subject, involving a child, became reprehensible to me. It angered and upset me that the plot took that turn. P
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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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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