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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 fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Sheryl on 07-03-12
Great Listen but not for everyone.
Really good but nothing like "Dog" so reset expectations. This is harder to follow with many characters appearing right at the start. It takes a bit of focus to understand who, what, where. If you are okay with a confusing start, it is well worth your time.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Fernhill on 07-22-12
Beautifully narrated, very touching story
Do you have any additional comments?
Done partially in a stream-of-consciousness style, including fragments of poems, I initially
worried that listening to this book was not the greatest way to
experience it. But it quickly became part of a coherent whole for me
and I really loved the book. The story of two related families on
holiday in the Welsh countryside and the permutations of
their relationships with each other and their own internal struggles is
done with complexity and great empathy. As with The Curious Incident of the
Dog in the Nightime, the author has great sympathy for
all the characters. Terrific narration.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful