The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel [in Library Journal]
Divided into three sections – Homeless, Homeward, and Home –that converge in the titular “High Mountains of Portugal,” three men epitomize the concepts after which the sections are named. Part 1’s Tomás, grieving the loss of his lover and son, takes his uncle’s automobile – one of 1904’s first – in search of a religious artifact mentioned in an ancient diary of one Father Ulisses, setting in motion an epic odyssey.
In Part 2, set in 1938-39, Eusebio, a pathologist, discusses the many parallels between Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries and the mystical life of Jesus Christ and is then confronted with an autopsy whose results he cannot explain.
Part 3 jumps to 1981 when Peter, a Canadian senator, reacts to his wife’s death by acquiring a chimpanzee and abandoning everything familiar to return to a birthplace he doesn’t remember.
Mark Bramhall’s versatile narration flows easily from 20-something desperation to 60-something acceptance, with even stronger cross-gender characterizations as a playfully intelligent wife to a long-suffering widow to a concerned sister thousands of miles away. Loyal Yann Martel (Booker-winning Life of Pi) fans will appreciate Bramhall’s aural return: as he vastly improved Beatrice and Virgil, Bramhall keeps audiences on track through Martel’s latest quest.
Review: modified from “Audio,” Library Journal, April 1, 2016