Book Beginnings: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

Not only does Gilion host the European Reading and TBR 22 in 22 on her Rose City Reader blog but also Book Beginnings on Friday. While I’m no stranger to her European Reading Challenge, only recently I decided to participate in Book Beginnings on Friday. This week I’m back with another post.

For Book Beginnings on Friday Gilion asks us to simply “share the opening sentence (or so) of the book you are reading this week, or just a book that caught your fancy and you want to highlight.”


Tomás decides to walk.

From his modest flat on Rua São Miguel in the he ill-famed Alfama district to his uncle’s stately estate in leafy Lapa, it is a good walk across much of Lisbon. It will likely take him an hour. But the morning has broken bright and mild, and the walk will soothe him.

Last week I featured Dzevad Karahasan’s 1994 account of a city under siege Sarajevo, Exodus of a City and the week before it was Icelandic author Ólafur Ólafsson’s 2019 novel The Sacrament This week it’s the 2016 novel The High Mountains of Portugal by Life of Pi author Yann Martel. So far it’s been nice to read with coffee in the morning and gin and tonic in the evening.

Yet another book I found by wandering the shelves at my public library, I’ll be applying it towards Rose City Reader’s European Reading Challenge since the novel is set in Portugal. Once again I’ve deviated from my original 20 Books of Summer but at this point I really don’t care. LOL!

I was also drawn to the book because it’s by the same author who wrote the international mega-seller The Life of Pi. It’s been almost 20 years since I read Life of Pi and I still remember it fondly.  The book’s Amazon page describes The High Mountains of Portugal as such:

In Lisbon in 1904, a young man named Tomás discovers an old journal. It hints at the existence of an extraordinary artifact that—if he can find it—would redefine history. Traveling in one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, he sets out in search of this strange treasure.

Thirty-five years later, a Portuguese pathologist devoted to the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie finds himself at the center of a mystery of his own and drawn into the consequences of Tomás’s quest.

Fifty years on, a Canadian senator takes refuge in his ancestral village in northern Portugal, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. But he arrives with an unusual companion: a chimpanzee. And there the century-old quest will come to an unexpected conclusion.

The High Mountains of Portugal—part quest, part ghost story, part contemporary fable—offers a haunting exploration of great love and great loss. Filled with tenderness, humor, and endless surprise, it takes the reader on a road trip through Portugal in the last century—and through the human soul.




8 thoughts on “Book Beginnings: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

  1. Pingback: Book Beginnings: Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell | Maphead's Book Blog

  2. Pingback: Book Beginnings: The Wrong End of the Telescope by Rabih Alameddine | Maphead's Book Blog

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