The High Mountains of Portugal

The High Mountains of Portugal

A Novel

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
A suspenseful, mesmerizing story of a great quest for meaning, told in three intersecting narratives touching the lives of three different people and their families, and taking us on an extraordinary journey through the last century. Early 1900s, Tom©Łs discovers an ancient journal and sets out in search of the strange treasure the journal describes. Thirty-five years later, a pathologist finds himself drawn into the consequences of Tom©Łs's quest. Fifty years later, Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa rescues a chimpanzee and takes it to live with him in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, where the strands of all three stories miraculously mesh together. Beautiful, witty, and engaging, Yann Martel offers us the same tender exploration of the impact and significance of great love and great loss, belief and unbelief that has marked all his brilliant, unexpected novels.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, ©2016.
ISBN: 9780345809438
Characteristics: 332 pages ;,22 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 19, 2019

Part one caught my attention, though it seemed to go nowhere and then without resolution came part two which was simply absurd. I have had enough of authors who write one good novel to much acclaim then slide into careless ... trash which is supposed to be allegory. It is not worth the trouble.

Dec 18, 2018

I really enjoyed the writing in this book, and although the three stories could have confused me a bit, I also enjoyed the slim threads connecting these three stories. I think reading this book and trying to figure out, to come to an understanding, to decipher the themes really requires one to discuss with others all the nuances. On the surface it is a mishmash of inconceivable incomprehensible characters and happenings, but underneath there are passions and emotions aplenty, as well as religious and familial themes. Talk amongst yourselves to get the full impact of this work.

Oct 07, 2018

This was definitely not the book for me. Too esoteric. The use of words, the style of writing, was wonderful though, as one would expect from this author, but for me the story itself was ... blah.

May 07, 2018

This was a memorable read. By briefly settling on three different people experiencing different losses Yann Martel brings their feelings to our own experiences with loss and how we move forward from them. There is so much i could talk about but it should be left for readers to discover themselves. It resonated so strongly with me and the losses i have felt for those gone and those gone while living. This was a phenomenal read to discover.

Apr 01, 2018

As always, Martel writes in religious allegory. His complex tales are filled with subtle magical absurdity that is entirely up to us to interpret. His excellent earlier book, *Life of Pi,* likens life to a story, quietly suggesting a story that includes God is the better story. *The High Mountains of Portugal* asks us to consider if a story with God is also necessary because a difficult life without a framework of meaning is impossible to endure. Or perhaps Martel is just writing about automobiles, autopsies, and apes. But I suppose that wouldn't be the better story.

May 02, 2017

A sad book. But a wonderful one.

I welcomed the library reviews to warn me that this was 3 short stories, vaguely connected. By not trying to make sense of the plot I was better able to appreciate the pathos of this story of grief suffered by fathers who have lost their sons and the suggestion of a resolution in the returning Canadians whose father-son relationship resolves in the high mountains of their ancestral village. I could not finish Life of Pi but I am glad I had a chance to read another of Martel's books and find some enjoyment in his unusual writing style.

Jan 30, 2017

This book left me feeling like there was something I was missing. The description of a man learning to drive one of the first cars through remote villages was farcical until it turned tragic. The 2nd story veered into surrealism and the 3rd brought the first two together but left me hanging, wondering whether I had not paid close enough attention to the details or wasn't smart enough to understand the allegory.

VaughanPLUrszula Jan 23, 2017

This book spans from the early 1900's to the mid-80's and presents three stories linked by grief, chimpanzees, and the High Mountains of Portugal. Although I appreciated the intricate connections and themes explored within the stories, I found parts 2 & 3 more compelling than the lengthy part 1. Grief and making sense of living on are portrayed in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner.

Jan 09, 2017

I enjoyed this book immensely. Unlike some other commenters, I didn't mind that the book didn't have a clear plot. I loved all the detailed descriptions -- about how an early automobile works, analysis of Agatha Christie, etc -- and found the bits of connection between the three sections of the book intriguing. No, not all your questions about the plot will be answered, but that is part of the charm and mystery of this book.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top