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The Red House [Hardcover]

Mark Haddon
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
RRP: £16.99
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Book Description

10 May 2012

Family, that slippery word, a star to every wandering bark, and everyone sailing under a different sky.

After his mother's death, Richard, a newly remarried hospital consultant, decides to build bridges with his estranged sister, inviting Angela and her family for a week in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children, a single family and all of them strangers. 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. And watching over all of them from high on the dark hill, Karen, Angela's stillborn daughter.

The Red House is about the extraordinariness of the ordinary, weaving the words and thoughts of the eight characters together with those fainter, stranger voices - of books and letters and music, of the dead who once inhabited these rooms, of the ageing house itself and the landscape in which it sits.

Once again Mark Haddon, bestselling 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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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; First Edition First Impression edition (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224096400
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224096409
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (293 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, was published simultaneously by Jonathan Cape and David Fickling in 2003. It won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. His poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, was published by Picador in 2005, and his last novel, The Red House, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2012. He lives in Oxford.

Product Description

Review

Haddon achieves a remarkable mélange of streams of consciousness, snatches of books, music, TV, private thoughts, lists, letters, all intertwined with sharply observed vignettes of everyday banality, soaring flights of description (Carol Birch Guardian 2012-05-09)

A masterly evocation of two dysfunctional, yet outwardly respectable families (Jane Clinton Sunday Express)

Rather like with Alan Ayckbourn's plays, what makes The Red House engaging is the quality of the writing. From the first page in which the train carrying Dominic and Angela's family "unzips the fields", there is a vigor to Haddon's prose which carries you along. I read it twice, both times with enjoyment (Amanda Craig Independent on Sunday)

First and foremost an easy read. But it's not just that, it's also shockingly well-observed, gut-wrenchingly familiar and even heartbreaking at times (Stylist)

The Red House - an adult novel set in Wales about a tortured family holiday, narrated equally the voices of children and adults - plays to all his strengths (Vanity Fair)

Book Description

The most keenly awaited book of the year - the superb new novel by the author of A Spot of Bother and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Two more dysfunctional families 8 Nov 2012
By Archy
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I loved the first book, but to say I was disappointed with this is an understatement. It's not so much the plot, an inconsequential tale of an estranged brother and sister and their respective families (dysfunctional, naturally) going to Herefordshire for a week in a cottage. A few skeletons emerge from cupboards, but no one seems to really change much. It's not so much the characters, though it's hard to remember who's who a lot of the time, so sketchily are they drawn. It's not so much the wealth of irrelevant and unnecessary realistic detail - is Exile on Main Street the best double album ever, or is it Physical Graffiti etc (try The White Album, Mark.) It's more all of this together, combined with an artsy, convoluted writing style that made me want to give up plenty of times. But I ploughed on, hoping the admittedly slight plot would make up for the pretentiousness of the style. It didn't.

It remeinded me a little of Alice Thomas Ellis, with more up-to-date characters. And boy is it up to date. It practically thrusts its modernity down your throat. You know, short paragraphs that skip from character to character; an ever changing tense, sometimes past, sometimes present. Ruminations and stream-of consciousness (not that that's modern) and that wealth of realistic detail that seems there more to pad the whole thing out. No speech marks, naturally. Those useful little squiggles seem to have little place in a modern book intended to be artistic. Instead we have italics. Whatever next? How about all nouns in bold? Really, I get so tired of writers messing with the form instead of letting the story, the characters, the description do the job. It's not as though Mark Haddon can't write - I just don't understand why he had to wrap up this rather humdrum tale in such artiness. I don't often give a book only one star, but this really brassed me off.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively devastating 8 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
At first i thought I was in for a humdrum tale of domestic angst amongst the Boden-wearing classes, but I soon realised there was a whole lot more to this story. I found it gripping, by the end - and the best yet of Haddon's books. It is very cleverly done - the author handles the constantly switching narrative point of view very skilfully, and his dissection of the emotions and foibles of each character is superb. None of the characters is immediately likeable but all the same I found myself feeling sympathy and empathy. There were tears! A great read, all in all. Just don't read it when you are on holiday with your extended family in a remote cottage.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Giving up too 3 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback
I have to agree with many of the other reviewers. Having enjoyed Curious Incident, I was looking forward to this but life is too short to endure something so difficult to read! I hate the way he brings in the characters. It's supposed to be clever but it is just pretentious. It's also depressing in a sort of attempt at a 'modern' portrayal of a 'modern' dysfunctional family - families. Doesn't ring true.
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66 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You can't choose your family 18 May 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
THE RED HOUSE (2012)
Mark Haddon / 272 pages / Jonathan Cape)

We all know what a brilliant, original novel Mark Haddon's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is, and although I read that on initial publication way back in 2003, when I was an innocent, fresh-faced fourteen year old, it has stayed with me (the same sadly cannot be said of the innocence or the fresh-face). For some reason I skirted Haddon's 2006 follow up A Spot of Bother, but was drawn to The Red House after hearing it discussed on BBC2's The Review Show. Although the panel were heatedly divided (and let's be honest, most of the reviewers on there are impossible to please), the ambitious premise really appealed; a family holiday in Wales reuniting a brother and sister (along with their partners and kids) who have not seen each other in years recounted from the brilliantly contradictory points-of-view of all eight family members.

Haddon certainly sets himself quite the challenge here but, on the whole, I think he just about pulls it off. Each voice is clearly distinguishable and he devotes equal care and detail to bringing all his characters vividly to life. I am often drawn to stories about dysfunctional families (I can relate), and here the author delivers in spades. The constant shifting of the focal character perspective presents the reader with an almost panoramic warts-and-all view of the two families; and over the eight days that the novel captures (each chapter covers a specific day of the holiday) we learn more and more about them. The preliminary attempted niceties soon fall by the wayside and give way to secrets, deceptions, resentments and traumas.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating 7 July 2012
By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Brother and Sister Richard and Angela have had little contact since the death of their mother some years ago. In the mean time Richard has remarried and in the process gained a teenage 'daughter'. A self assured hospital consultant, he decides to try to reconnect with his sister and her family.

Angela teaches, while her husband Dominic, once a successful composer of ad tunes is now working in a book store; they have two teenage children, Alex and Daisy, and eight year old Benjy. Angela and Dominic's marriage is shaky, Alex is loosing respect or his father and Daisy has joined a church and has cut herself off from her old friends.

When Richard invites Angela and her family to join them for a week in a rented cottage on the Welsh border it is with mixed feelings that they accept. The Red House is an account of their holiday. Taken day by day it is a series of episodes from their interactions, peppered with their private thoughts and worries, along with occasional snippets from their chosen various reading matter.

The account flits from person to person with rapid frequency, and is occasionally interspersed with descriptive paragraphs of their isolated location often with little regard for proper sentence structure - this is not a criticism, just an observation, but I hope it conveys something of the slightly unusual construction of this novel.

Over the course of the week we observe the individual characters, and far from all come out of the experience with shinning colours. The otherwise self confident Richard has his eyes opened as to how he treats others, and his previously adoring new wife sees him in a new light. Their self-centred daughter may or may not be a better person after the events of the week.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely story
Really clever use of words.
I could feel the wind and smell the sea.
I will certainly look for more books by this clever writer.
Published 18 days ago by Black Dog
5.0 out of 5 stars The Red House
Book arrived earlier than originally promised, was of the quality quoted on reading it I cannot say it is my favourite book, bit of a mistake really.
Published 23 days ago by Janet Gaskell
1.0 out of 5 stars Can't read it...
Saw i wasn't the only one, the 'style' clearly put me off. Managed to read about 30 pages (don't even know how I did that) and just felt like none of what I read made any sense. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Jerome
3.0 out of 5 stars not so impressed...
This book dragged a little and it had taken some effort to got through the first half of the book.
Published 26 days ago by A Shackleton
1.0 out of 5 stars Surrender
Try as I may but this book has beaten me. It jumps from one topic to another. I gave up.
Published 27 days ago by Mr. Glyn Thomas
2.0 out of 5 stars A dreadfully written book by a previously accomplished author
I read this despite its many bad reviews but ended up feeling like all the other disappointed readers. Not only is it not a patch on "Curious Indcident... Read more
Published 1 month ago by pritchins
3.0 out of 5 stars Different Way of Writing
I'm afraid the style of writing does not suit me. I found it rather tedious to read but I managed to finish it which says something as I am prone to give up! Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amanda Cuddigan
2.0 out of 5 stars So disappointed!
Like most other reviewers I had loved The Curious Incident & A Spot of Bother so I had saved this book from my Christmas treats to take on holidays recently. Read more
Published 1 month ago by moses
3.0 out of 5 stars not really my thing
I found the switching from the thoughts of one person to the other quite clever at first but it soon got laborious and I found that I did not feel anything for any of them and... Read more
Published 1 month ago by maggie riche
5.0 out of 5 stars The English Holiday is in Crisis
Siblings Angela and Richard don’t get on, but have ended up, with their families, having a holiday together in a house in Herefordshire. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bob Ventos
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