Title: The Red House (Goodreads)
Author: Mark Haddon
Published: Jonathan Cape, Random House, 2012
Genre: Literary Fiction
My Copy: ARC from Publisher
Buy: Amazon, (or visit your local Indie bookstore)
It’s hard to review a book like this; Mark Haddon is a very talented writer and he has some brilliant techniques employed into this novel. However, I can’t help comparing this book to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and ultimately I think this book lacked something to make this book great. With the huge success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I can’t help but think that Mark Haddon has gotten overly confident with his writing. While it was refreshing and enjoyable to read a book with so many interesting writing techniques; I never really connected with the plot or the characters. I was so excited about reading another book by this author and I feel I made a rookie mistake by going into a book with such high expectations.
The Red House is the story about a well off physician, Richard, and his new family (recently married a woman with a sixteen year old daughter) taking a vacation. Richard invites his sister Angela and family to join them as they hadn’t seen each other since the funeral of their mother, fifteen years ago. Angela’s husband Dominic and three children are not as well off as Richard and took advantage of the offer as they wouldn’t be able to afford a vacation any other way. Together for a week in a rented cottage in Wales starts to show the cracks in everyone’s relationship and exposes just how dysfunctional the family really is.
Mark Haddon is contently switching between narrators in this book, I think I counted eight different points of views throughout this book (might be more) and one of those was an all-seeing third person narrative. With the narrative always changing and each character only giving a glimpse of an insight, this book started off a little confusing and hard to keep track of all of the main characters. One thing I’ve found that Haddon did in this book as well as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time that I really liked was that he wasn’t afraid to expose the inner voice of each character and allowing the reader an insight into the flaws and thoughts of each one of the characters. There were also a lot of references to pop-culture within this book that was quite enjoyable to read; especially all the references to each book the main characters were reading.
The Red House was actually a nice easy read and I was surprised how fast I got through this book; this could have been all the blank pages throughout the book. While I never really connected with this book the writing styles used throughout this book were interesting and almost experimental at times. Some of it worked and some of didn’t, I think Mark Haddon was overly confident when he wrote this book and it seemed to come through in the novel. I’m sure many people will love and enjoy this book and don’t let my opinion stop you from reading it. For me I struggled making that connection and I tried and tried to enjoy this book but it just didn’t quite get there.