The Red House
The setup 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 remarried and acquired a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. All eight arrive with low expectations for a pleasant holiday. But because of Haddon's extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people are anything but familiar. 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.
“Haddon’s tone is flawless, so compassionate and detailed and precise that this novel beguiles without cloying, illuminates without demystifying. All happy families may be alike, but oh, how wonderful to witness the myriad unhappiness of the others, conjured by a virtuoso wordsmith.”
—The Globe and Mail
“The ever surprising, often shocking, often moving and highly entertaining Mark Haddon has come up with a novel about family secrets and lies. It’s every bit as charmingly idiosyncratic as his brilliant The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
—Daily Mirror (UK)
“. . . it’s Haddon’s peculiar structure that raises this family drama to something exceptional. He’s perfected a constantly shifting perspective that keeps our sympathies from taking root in any one of these characters. . . . the voices are so distinct that once you can keep up, the effect is symphonic. . . . Haddon wends a careful path in this novel between the effervescent comedy of quirky families and the bitter tragedy of dysfunctional ones.”
—The Washington Post