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The Red House Paperback – 10 May 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 373 customer reviews

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Paperback, 10 May 2012
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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd (10 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224096419
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224096416
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (373 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,431,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A beautiful object that will grace any holiday home's unfixably wobbly bedside table. The cover feels like a cracked china plate, decorated with a clever re-working of the willow-pattern; like the contents, it is subtle and clever. Haddon writes superb books for children, teenagers and grown-ups, and gets every voice in this one dead right. He is also a master craftsman, so this complicated narrative moves with the speed and certainty of released, unhappy holidaymakers hitting the homeward road. So shove this in your holidaying bag. You may have made a mistake with the booking, but you won't with the book" (Susan Jeffreys Independent)

"Mark Haddon is terrifyingly talented... The Red House is thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable entertainment" (Angus Clarke The Times)

"A hugely enjoyable, sympathetic novel...a tremendous pleasure...we have been absorbed, entertained and moved" (Kate Kellaway Observer)

"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)

"With writing as elegant and truthful as this, readers will wish to keep their copies close at hand to savour again" (Michael Arditti Daily Mail) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
A week in a holiday cottage shared by eight relations, seen from their varying perspectives. The trials of being with one's family: those people in our lives that we didn't choose! The damage that's been done, and the anger and resentment. And the selective and unreliable nature of memory: how two people can look back and remember the same event quite differently. These are some of the themes of Mark Haddon's remarkable third novel, which confirms his status as an exceptionally talented author who always produces the goods - some achievement, after the runaway success of the debut that had readers wondering if he could ever write anything as good again. Well, he could, and he has (twice).

As always, Haddon gets inside each of his characters and opens them up like an anatomist, dissecting their behaviour and motives, and recording their pains and triumphs. As it says on the jacket, he has "a true understanding of the human heart". (So true, in fact, that it might be unsettling, having him as one of your relatives! That acuity of perception; you could get away with nothing.) His observations on children in particular are wonderfully good, and the four in this novel will tug at your heartstrings: the unhappy girl who doesn't know how to be kind; the late-adolescent boy obsessed with sex, rivalry and the need to impress; his sister's struggle to come to terms with something that has turned her to religion for comfort; and the little boy who is still very much a child, but has to deal with the complicated manoeuvres of those older than him, when all he wants to do is have fun.

The story is told in small chunks, switching quickly from one perspective to another: a structure likely to annoy me, but it didn't.
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By Benjamin TOP 500 REVIEWER on 7 July 2012
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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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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