A man who has lost everything and mourns by walking backwards takes a journey into the High Mountains of Portugal in an early, 20th-century automobile to look for a bizarre, lost Christian artifact. A pathologist, devout to both God and Agatha Christie, performs an autopsy on a man and finds something unusual within. A modern Canadian man with Portuguese heritage picks up and moves to the High Mountains of Portugal with a Chimpanzee, searching for peace and a new life.
Yann Martel’s newest book, The High Mountains of Portugal, is a three-part journey that explores grief and Christian devotion with a twist. As a non-Christian and non-religious reader, I hesitated with the book’s themes at first, worried that I was about to slog through some 300 pages of Christian proselytizing, but this was not the case at all. I could not put this book down, and soon came to find that the stories dealt less with religion and more with the human condition.
The writing is beautiful and the stories haunting and full. My only issue comes from the nature of the ending, which I thought failed to tie together all the loose ends. Granted, I wasn’t expecting to be spoon-fed meaning, but there were quite a few questions that were left open.
But in all I do recommend this book, both to a reader looking for pleasure in prose as well as to one searching for deep thinking. Perhaps you might find many more answers than I did.
Story: 3 // Craft: 4 // Entertainment: 4