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The Red House (2012)

by Mark Haddon

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1,2148511,439 (3.13)55
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.… (more)
Recently added byArina40, TomPa, hivetrick
  1. 10
    The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling (Anonymous user)
  2. 00
    This is Just Exactly Like You by Drew Perry (JGoto)
    JGoto: About a dysfunctional family, but written with humor.
  3. 00
    All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both books tell the story of a family with issues, from their different viewpoints. 'All Families' does it with lots of black humor, 'The Red House' with an interesting approach to the viewpoints.
  4. 01
    Deutschland by Martin Wagner (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: Both books have a tangle of reticent English family members misunderstanding each other while on holiday
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» See also 55 mentions

English (83)  Dutch (2)  All languages (85)
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
I read The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time and really enjoyed so I came to this book with a bit of expectation. I was disappointed that it wasn’t as off-beat as the other book but it was still a well written book. The story is about a dysfunctional family who go on holiday with some distant family members.

It is well written, believable characters, well paced but dreary as hell. ( )
  Ken-Me-Old-Mate | Sep 24, 2020 |
Could not comprehend what was going on, therefore no rating.
  billycongo | Jul 22, 2020 |
This book took much longer to snag me than it should have. The chapters are broken down by the days the two families are on vacation together, and the stream of consciousness will jump between characters sometimes with every chapter. Steer clear if this type of novel annoys the shit out of you.

Haddon doesn't really have a firm grasp on a female perspective, so those parts seemed lacking to me. I mean hell, one of the characters realizes she's a lesbian and it seemed empty, to me. As well as all the other females voices. ( )
  amandanan | Jun 6, 2020 |
(7.5) This book has eight narrative voices and I really struggled with it to begin with as the narrator often changed within a page. However, persist I did and I was rewarded in the end. The characters fleshed out and their voices became more distinctive, their flaws balanced by their better attributes in most cases. The story comes to a satisfying conclusion. ( )
  HelenBaker | May 3, 2020 |

I really liked this novel by Haddon; I think as much as I enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I read several years ago. They are quite different story lines, but the narrative voice and some of the themes are similar. Haddon certainly has a singular 'voice' in his novels, and is enjoy it every bit as much as the next joe with a bad case of Anglophelia. Perhaps a little more, at times.

In this one, the switches between perspectives and snippets of texts or songs interspersed with the story was confusing, at first, but I soon found my Haddon rhythm and was deeply immersed, while I was reading it. I would recommend it because it made me think about my own relationship with my husband. Also it made me think a lot. It made me laugh occasionally, and overall it kept me very engaged.

I really enjoyed the plot, the human observation and the tentative ending. It is a great exercise in drawing out the complexities of families and relationships, it allowed me to feel personally connected and close to the psyche of each character. And even though some people think there should have been some kind of resolving of at least one of the story lines in the novel, I think it ended just the way group vacations usually do; awkwardly fond of everyone there, with some little resolve to seeing them once again soon. Just lovely.
( )
  stephanie_M | Apr 30, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 83 (next | show all)
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.
 
If you want truly great literature set in an English country house, you still can’t beat Wodehouse’s Blandings books for deep-core contentment and unbridled comic zip. “The Red House,” on the other hand, reads as if it were written to silence those critics who damn Haddon with the faint praise of being too “readable.” Mission accomplished.
 
Shortly after their mother's death, wealthy doctor Richard invites his estranged sister and her family to accompany him on holiday in the Welsh countryside with his new wife and teenage stepdaughter. Angela convinces her husband and their three children to come on the premise that it's the best, or only, vacation they can afford, and so begins the novel's seven-day drama—each relative descending on the country manse. Haddon engages the reader with his intimate portrayals of realistic and knowable, though by and large not wholly likable, characters; and for a week, familial alliances are made and broken enough for a 100-years' war. The book's ambition is perhaps greater than the ends it achieves—although comfortably paced and plotted, the frenetic changes in narrator are often disorienting. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
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To Clare, with thanks to Mary Gawne-Cain
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Cooling towers and sewage farms.
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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.

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Two families. Eight lives. One week. What could go wrong?

A week after their mother's funeral Angela receives a call from her brother Richard inviting her for a week's holiday in the Welsh borders. Families included. Angela and Richard had spent twenty years avoiding each other, and can't remember why. 'I'm not looking forward to it any more than you' she says to her husband. 'But I didn't have a great deal of choice.'

In the isolated valley, a semblance of holiday is quickly achieved – reading, exploring, alcohol – each family acting as a buffer for the other, a distraction from their own problems. But fissures soon appear. Dominic, an out of work musician, is wary of the wife he doesn't love any more. Richard is hoping that something will be resolved or mended or rediscovered over the few days, but his sister has an anger he can't fathom. The teenagers circle each other cautiously. Eight-year-old Benjy is more intent on throwing sheep poo.

Over the course of the week the eight must not only contend with each other but also the lives they have left behind – the actions and secrets that quietly invade the house and the holiday to devastating effect.

Narrated in turns by each character, The Red House is an extraordinary portrait of the complexities of family life, and of eight very different people coming together and falling apart over the course of a week.
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