Saturday, April 30, 2022

The High Mountains of Portugal

The High Mountains of PortugalThe High Mountains of Portugal 
by Yann Martel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you make a mystery quilt you are given the directions for various pieces separately without knowing when you begin what the whole quilt looks like. You might be told to make a certain number of 4-patches in black and red and then a different number of half-square-triangles in red and white which are a larger size than the 4-patches, and so on until you have several piles of apparently unrelated pieces. The final steps in the mystery directions bring all the bits together into a coherent, interconnected design. This novel was structured that way: a bunch of narrative pieces that seemed not to go together, though there were some connections (like the red fabrics in various quilt blocks), until you saw the whole beautiful pattern pulled together at the end. 
There was also a fascinating theory--fully explained in the novel--about Agatha Christie's work:
"The only modern genre that plays on the same high moral register as the Gospels is the lowly regarded murder mystery. If we set the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie atop the Gospels and shine a light through, we see correspondence and congruence, agreement and equivalence." p. 164
I enjoyed this book very much, it had lots of details about things mixed into it, the structure was compelling, and the characters were appealing. It did drag a bit too much in places and I didn't really need to know that many details about how an autopsy is performed. I read Life of Pi many years ago and liked it. I plan to seek out more of Martel's novels. 
This book counts toward the Canadian Reading Challenge because the author lives in Canada and part of the book is set in Canada.  This was the book that came up in my unreadshelf spin.

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