Primate Connections

The High Mountains of Portugal51ccbpyxfrl._sy400_.jpg by Yann Martel is an unusual novel. I am unsure what to make of it.

The novel consists of three interrelated stories. I thought the first two stories were quite bizarre, but the final story was a bit more believable. Part one is set in Portugal during the early 1900’s.  In it, a man loses his young wife and child. Fueled by grief, anger, and loss, he begins walking backwards, borrows a car from his uncle, and sets out on a journey to locate a crucifix fashioned by a missionary in Africa centuries earlier which now resides in a remote Portuguese church.

The second story takes place in Portugal as well in 1939. In it, a pathologist experiences an inexplicable New Year’s Eve while working late at the morgue.

The final story is about a member of the Canadian Parliament who recently lost his wife. The way in which he confronts his grief is pretty bizarre. He rescues an ape from a U.S. research facility and takes it to the Portuguese town where the statesman was born.

As in novels of this sort, the stories share a connection. The stories are interesting, thought-provoking, and well-written. Having recently read an Agatha Christie novel, I experienced a deja-vu moment of my own while reading it because her books are discussed at length by one of the characters in the second portion of this book. I think this is a novel which requires slow digestion and deep thinking. I enjoyed it in some ways, but not wholeheartedly. I am curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who has read it. As for me, the jury is out!

About dianeledet

Professional Writing Consultant, Graduate of DePaul University School for New Learning 2008
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