‘I really am so very, very sorry about this,’ he says, in an oddly formal voice… They strike the side of a grain silo. They are travelling at seventy miles per hour.
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 tail…
So begins a wild adventure of a novel, damp with salt spray, blood and tears. A novel that leaps from the modern era to ancient times; a novel that soars, and sails, and burns long and bright; a novel that almost drowns in grief yet swims ashore; in which pirates rampage, a princess wins a wrestler’s hand, and ghost women with lampreys’ teeth drag a man to hell – and in which the members of a shattered family, adrift in a violent world, journey towards a place called home.
This is quiet a unique read. The story opens with Maja, wife to Phillippe, heavily pregnant, taking ‘a lift’ home with a friend and his son, in a small light aircraft, from France to England. The pilot is not totally prepared and they crash. All die but ambulance staff manage to save the baby. A girl, called Angelica. Phillippe is set adrift with grief he doesn’t know how to handle and the baby is whisked away to one of their many homes and looked after by staff. Where the story goes next is quiet hard hitting and a difficult subject to tackle and took me totally by surprise.
We next meet Darius, rich, confident, a bit of a show off. He has heard stories of a beautiful daughter kept away from society by an over protective father and after a meeting with Phillippe, where he meets Angelica, he senses something truly isn’t right and goes back to the house later that day to see if he can help her and get her out!
The book then takes a turn that only someone like Mark Haddon could manage!!
What an interesting read. This novel is beautifully written, complex and multi-layered. Mark Haddon takes the Greek/Shakespearean tale of Pericles, Prince of Tyre and re-writes it blending it in with a modern day fictional story of grief, incest, isolation and fear.
I loved the way it jumps to the mythological Porpoise, although I had to go back and re-read a few pages to check I’d understood it right! We suddenly find ourselves amongst distant lands and legends, Pirates and Princess Wonderful characters that leap into your imagination and stay there.
I also loved the way the author links back in to the modern day story of Angelica. Isolated and with few modern things to distract her see reads the old books of Greek tales and creates a romantic ideal of life and relationships inside her head. The end of the book takes another leap and makes you think of what really ties these two stories together.
Having read the first 3 of Mark Haddon”s books this is something altogether different. I had to stay alert at the beginning of the book to keep track of where it was going but the story of Pericles, Marina and Emilia is wonderful and sails you away to a land of brilliant story telling.
The Porpoise is out now published May 9th 2019 by @ChattoBooks
Thank you to Sarah Shaffi for my copy.