Good Reading : March 2016
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING MARCH 2016 40 GENERAL FICTION WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG The High Mountains of Portugal Yann Martel Inever managed to get into Yann Martel’s Life ofPi,sowhenIwas given the chance to read his latest book, I thought this might be a chance to start over with Martel. The High Mountains of Portugal consists of three intertwined stories. Each of the central characters has loved and lost – and is looking for meaning in their new solitary lives. In 1904 Tomás is grieving the deaths of his lover and his son. He expresses his resentment towards God by literally turning his back on him – and walking backwards. Borrowing a motor vehicle he makes his way to the high mountains of Portugal in search of a crucifix he has read about in an old journal – with disastrous consequences. Thirty-five years later, a pathologist receives two surprise visitors in his surgery. The first is his wife, with whom he has a lengthy conversation about religion and Agatha Christie novels. The second is a woman from the high mountains of Portugal who seeks an autopsy on her husband – with surprising results. The final story was the most moving. On a business trip, a widowed Canadian senator befriends a chimpanzee. Despite knowing how mad and impetuous it seems, he leaves his old life behind to live with his new companion in the high mountains of Portugal. Meaning comes to these characters in unexpected ways – much like the high mountains of Portugal themselves, which are really only gently undulating hills. Touching, funny and insightful, The High Mountains of Portugal is a beautiful book – and more accessible than Life of Pi but still full of magic. ★★★★★ RG Text $29.99 Reviewed by Lauren Cook The World According to Anna Jostein Gaarder It is 2012, and 15-year-old Anna is exper iencing visions of the year 2082, in which she meets her own great- granddaughter, Nova, who is living with the effects of climate change in a barren and desolate world. It’s a world in which natural resources have been destroyed, most forms of animal and plant life are extinct, and climate refugees from the worst affected nations roam across Europe in search of a new home. Nova lays the blame for the Earth’s turmoil squarely on the shoulders of Anna’s generation. ‘I want the world that you had at my age ... you owe me that,’ she bellows, as she watches old David Attenborough documentaries of a bygone world. Witnessing Nova’s plight spurs the present-day Anna into action, inspiring her to do her utmost to prevent what she has seen becoming reality. Despite its interesting premise and timely message, the problem with The World According to Anna is that it is much too heavy-handed. Its preachy tone comes into play from the first pages and never lets up. Unfortunately, despite author Jostein Gaarder’s noble intentions, the book’s lack of subtlety – including Anna’s unhappy knack of turning every conversation into a gratingly earnest plea for a change in mankind’s attitude to the natural world – will likely repel even the greenest of readers. ★★ W&N $24.99 Reviewed by Heather Lunney The High Mountains of Portugal Yann Martel IInever managed to get into Yann Martel’s of Pi given the chance to read his latest book, I thought this might be a chance to start over with Martel. The High Mountains of Portugal The World According to Anna Jostein Gaarder IIt is 2012, and 15-year-old Anna is experiencing visions of the year 2082, in which she meets her own great- granddaughter, Nova, who is living with About Jostein Gaarder Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder had a huge hit with his 1991 book Sophie’s World; 40 million copies of the book are in print.