The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Porpoise

Author: Mark Haddon

Publisher: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: June 17, 2019

ISBN: 9780385692670

Synopsis from Goodreads:
This contemporary story mirrors the ancient Greek legend of Antiochus, whose love for the daughter of his dead wife was discovered by the adventurer Appolinus of Tyre. The tale appeared in many forms through the ages; Shakespeare transformed Appolinus into the swashbuckling Pericles in his play. In The Porpoise, as Angelique grapples with the wreck of her life, trapped on her father’s estate, Darius morphs into Pericles, voyaging through a mythic world. In a bravura feat of storytelling, Haddon recounts his many exploits in thrilling fashion, mining the meaning of the old legends while creating parallels with the monstrous modern world Angelique inhabits. The language is rich and gorgeous; the conjured worlds are perfectly imagined; the plot moves forward at a ferocious pace.


I was a huge fan of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, however I was not able to get on board with his new book, The Porpoise. This book parallels two stories: a young, motherless woman, trapped in a horrifying and tragic situation at home, and a mythological Greed legend brought together in love but torn apart by deceit and unfortunate circumstances. While I was intrigued by these two stories, I was not able to fully understand how these stories mirrored one another, nor how they added to or enhanced the other. I was left feeling unsatisfied and often uncomfortable by the book as a whole. I didn’t find the story to be particularly stimulating and I was often disappointed in the turns the tale took throughout. I felt as though I had an expectation of Haddon’s writing from my previous experience, and this novel did not quite reach those expectations unfortunately.

I found myself eyeing the page count throughout, finding the pace slow and the story lacking in engaging qualities. I didn’t think the characters were particularly appealing, nor likable. I was moved more by discomfort at the situations, rather than a desire to see the character grow or reach states of resolution. I felt like this story introduced a terrible and intense plot line in the father-daughter story, then quickly pivoted away to the story of Pericles with very little moments of return to the initial story. It felt misleading and unfulfilling overall.

Haddon excels at world building and this talent kept the book afloat. It was a beautiful world to imagine, but the plot and characters left something to be desired.

I hope you’ll enjoy a bit more than I did!

Published by wornpagesandink

Hi! I'm Jaaron. I'm a book-obsessed blogger, writer, reader, coffee-drinker, and dog-lover. I have a B.A.H. in English Literature and a post-graduate diploma in Book and Magazine publishing. I've been fortunate to have worked in both trade and educational publishing. If you have any recommendations for excellent reads, let me know!

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