‘The Porpoise’ by Mark Haddon

I can’t say that I enjoyed this book. It’s a dark tale and initially I was very engaged with the story-telling of the shocking birth of Angelica, and her father dealing with the aftermath of the loss of his wife and son. The father’s increasing obsession with his daughter into abuse provides disturbing reading. The reader is then thrown into another narrative at the turn of a page; this is the story of Pericles and we are suddenly in ancient Greece and another story takes over. I must admit I was really confused there for a while! The confusion also deepens when we enter a new addition of Shakespeare and his collaborator of his Pericles story – this third addition didn’t really work for me. Each tale links but you do have to work hard as a reader!

It’s certainly an unusual narrative, and a puzzle to read; it’d be an interesting piece to study with students, particular the parallels Haddon is creating through the multiple narratives.
For an enjoyable, escape from reality read – nope, not at all. If you are interested in mythology and after a complex, not pleasant tale weaving narrative threads that connect into one story, whilst giving the brain a thorough workout – then yes, go for it!
Published in May 2019

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