A special thank you to NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I absolutely loved Life of Pi, and like that story, The High Mountains of Portugal was very hard to get into however, I did like this book more than Beatrice and Virgil.
This novel is made up of three separate narratives, all are connected and come full circle in the last story which takes the reader back to Portugal. The first narrative takes place in the early 1900s. Tomás sets out on a quest that takes him from Lisbon to the High Mountains of Portugal by one of the first motor cars. The second story takes place thirty-five years later. A pathologist is visited by his wife who juxtaposes the novels of Agatha Christie to Bible verses and then is possibly murdered when she leaves his office. He is then visited by a lady who bring him the body of her dead husband in a suitcase and wants and autopsy performed on him. And finally, fifty years later we meet Senator Peter Tovy of Ottawa who is grieving the death of his own beloved wife. Peter, on a whim, rescues a chimpanzee from a primate research facility in Oklahoma. He takes the chimp to Portugal, home to his ancestral village and this is where all three stories weave together.
In true Martel fashion, the story has themes of love and loss, a strong animal presence, and almost a fable-like quality. His writing is beautiful, but at times too complex, especially in the beginning. I'm glad I finished the book, but I really had to push through the first story to do so.