Title: The Red House
Author: Mark Haddon
Page Count/Review Word Count: 340
The Red House is typical of Haddon’s work, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t brilliant – as always, the author of the award-winning novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time focuses on people and the relationships between them. As far as the story-line goes, this novel is simply about two families who spend a week living together in a cottage near the Welsh border. But let me tell you right now that there’s so much more on offer.
The way in which Haddon depicts the subtle interplay between the members of the two different families is fantastic, and his slightly abstract style of writing works well because it helps him to show how the differing perspectives of two different people can distort the truth. For example, a brother and sister have completely different memories of their father – the sister can’t remember what he looks like, and she remembers him as a hero. The brother, meanwhile, remembers that he was an abusive arsehole, and it all comes out when they’re locked up in the cottage, away from civilisation.
You’ve also got a bunch of horny teenagers to look forward to, including a teenage girl who joined the church to find salvation but slowly realises that perhaps she can find herself somewhere else. There was also a girl called Melissa who has such a strong personality that I’m not surprised that so many of the other characters are drawn to her – she seems like my kind of girl, too.
All in all, it’s a long old read and you’ll need to concentrate on it until you reach the end, but it’s worth persevering with, especially if you find (like I did) that all of the characters blend together to begin with. By the time you reach the end, you’ll feel as though you’re a part of the family, like you spent a week in the Red House with them.