The Red House: Book summary and reviews of The Red House by Mark Haddon

The Red House

A Novel

By Mark Haddon

The Red House
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

The set-up of Mark Haddon's brilliant new novel is simple: Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.

But because of Haddon's extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but simple. Told through the alternating viewpoints of each character, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly-guarded secrets and illicit desires, all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt. As we come to know each character they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we come to realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family.

The Red House is a literary tour-de-force that illuminates the puzzle of family in a profoundly empathetic manner - a novel sure to entrance the millions of readers of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. ...Yet the plot feels organic rather than contrived, the characters convincing throughout, the tone compassionate and the writing wise. A novel to savor." - Kirkus Reviews

"The tiresomely quirky Haddon misses the epochal timbre that Jonathan Franzen hit with Freedom, and his constantly distracted novel is rarely more than a distraction itself." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Refreshingly, Haddon takes the risk of making the ordinary extraordinary and succeeds; each character is poignantly real and each small trauma a revelation. And the language! Highly recommended." - Library Journal

"The book's ambition is perhaps greater than the ends it achieves - although comfortably paced and plotted, the frenetic changes in narrator are often disorienting - but the very many fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) will be thrilled to see Haddon on shelves anew." - Booklist

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Author Information

Mark Haddon Author Biography

© Nigel Barklie

Mark Haddon is the author of the international bestseller, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year award. In addition to the recently published The Talking Horse, the Sad Girl, and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has also written and illustrated numerous award-winning children's books and television screenplays. He teaches writing for the Arvon foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford with his wife and son.

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