The Red House
By Mark Haddon
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780307949257, 272pp.)
Publication Date: March 12, 2013
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A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
From Mark Haddon, the bestselling author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, comes a dazzlingly inventive novel about modern family life.
Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister and her family to join his family for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Against the backdrop of a strange family gathering, Haddon skillfully weaves together the stories of eight very different people forced into close quarters. The Red House is a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly guarded secrets and illicit desires, painting a portrait of contemporary family life that is at once bittersweet, comic, and deeply felt.
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, and of the New York Times bestseller A Spot of Bother. In addition to The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has written and illustrated numerous award-winning children’s books and television screenplays.
- What role does the Welsh landscape play in The Red House? How might this story be different if it portrayed an American family? Where would you set the story and what points of American culture would you add?
“Absorbing. . . . Brilliant. . . . 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
“Haddon delivers a story of remarkable complexity, exploring the rich interior lives of his characters. . . . Impressive.”
“Particularly fresh and true.”
—O, the Oprah Magazine
“A chaotic but truthful portrait of what family means in this narcissistic age: less a cohesive whole than a group of individuals bumping against each other with their own needs, disappointments and . . . victories.”
—The Seattle Times
“In this absorbing, Virginia Woolf-esque novel . . . an extended family gathers for a week in the English countryside. Perfect (or not) for that holiday with the in-laws.” —People Magazine
“The story unfolds from all eight characters’ points of view, a tricky strategy that pays off, letting Haddon dig convincingly into all of the failures, worries, and weaknesses that they can’t leave behind.”
“Engaging. . . . The quality of the writing allows us to know this extended clan, who are on a week’s holiday, better than they know each other.”
—The Independent (London)
“The language of [The Red House] is wonderful—particular, vivid, attentive.”
—The Plain Dealer
“Mark Haddon is terrifyingly talented.”
—The Times (London)
“Each of the characters acts as a splintered bit of mirror for the others, so that the reader sees them all from multiple perspectives. . . . Satisfying and believable. . . . Haddon writes with a gentle, compassionate sense of irony.”
—The Columbus Dispatch
“[A] hugely enjoyable, sympathetic novel. . . . It is a book of minor revelations and slow-release secrets.”
—The Observer (London)
“Haddon peers inside the messy dynamics of a group of relatives, each grappling with their own fears and trying to make sense of themselves as a family. . . . [The novel] braids together themes of sexual identity, parental insecurity and sibling rivalry, and no one gets away unscathed.”
“Haddon delights in winkling . . . social misfits out of their natural habitats and thrusting them into very English comedies of discombobulation and befuddlement.” —The New York Times
“[Haddon] writes like a dream. Never showy, but often lyrically descriptive, he takes the reader with him to the core of this crazy family. . . . He has a true understanding of the human heart.”
—The Spectator (London)