The Red House, Paperback Book
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


From the bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Spot of Bother comes a superb book about family and secrets.

Two families. Seven days. One house. Angela and her brother Richard have spent twenty years avoiding each other.

Now, after the death of their mother, they bring their families together for a holiday in a rented house on the Welsh border.

Four adults and four children. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.

But in the quiet and stillness of the valley, ghosts begin to rise up.

The parents Richard thought he had. The parents Angela thought she had. Past and present lovers. Friends, enemies, victims, saviours. Once again Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Spot of Bother, has written a novel that is funny, poignant and deeply insightful about human lives.


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If one of Haddon's characters was to describe this book, it would be a 'Marmite' kind of book. On the surface, it's not all that promising - two estranged siblings and their assorted dysfunctional families spending a week holidaying together in a fairly remote cottage on the Welsh border.<br/><br/>If you approach it expecting a cosy, conventional tale of sibling rivalries being slowly resolved over mugs of cocoa while the children learn to get on by not having cell or wireless access, you'll put this down after a few pages scratching your head. Because it's not like that at all.<br/><br/>Each chapter relates the events of one day; each paragraph is told from the viewpoint (and often in the voice of) one of the eight characters. From the outset, this is unsettling and requires a great deal of concentration. Once Haddon is sure you are concentrating, however, he unravels a spectacular tale of real people dealing with real lives in all their discomfort and disarray<br/><br/><spoiler><br/>Woven through the story is the implied (and occasionally present) ninth voice, that of Angela's stillborn daughter. This device lifts some of the mundane to an altogether different level, as Angela slowly unravels in the way her mother clearly did.<br/><br/>Each of the characters reaches some kind of epiphany, but at the end - and true to life in general, and these characters in particular, nothing is really resolved. Daisy's journey may appear the most developed, but she is (and we are) still not really sure what's going on by the end. Has Alex made the break from his family to independence? Has Melissa learned her lesson? Has Louisa come to understand Richard? Has Richard? Had Dominic resolved his affair? Has Benjy learned about growing up (and, most intriguingly for me: is Benjy mildly autistic and undiagnosed, or is he just 'one of those kids'?)<br/><br/>Only time will tell; not time we get to spend with them in this story, but the week we spend with them all enriches everyone. Magnificent.<br/></spoiler>