Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The Red House by Mark Haddon

Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister, Angela, and her family to join his family for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just remarried and acquired a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a husband whose career has collapsed and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, staples of family gatherings the world over.
Because of Haddon’s extraordinary narrative technique, the stories of these eight people shine with the power of lived experience. Told through alternating viewpoints, The Red House becomes a symphony of long-held grudges, fading dreams and rising hopes, tightly guarded secrets, and illicit desires. But they do try – to forgive, to reach out, to sooth, to love – all adding up to a portrait of contemporary family life that is bittersweet, comic and deeply felt. As we come to know the characters, they become profoundly real to us. We understand them, even as we realize they will never fully understand each other, which is the tragicomedy of every family. (from book cover)
I wanted to share this alternate cover that I found. I actually like it better!!!!

I was not overly excited to read this book. I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in college and did not like it. As I was reading, though, I found myself enjoying the book more and more. I really like British stories (for whatever reason lol) and it got to the point in which I could not wait to be able to read more and find out what was going to happen next.
This is an extremely messed up family of 8. Not one of them is without issues. Insecurity, sexuality, faithfulness, trust and more are issues that are dealt with in this story. Richard is selfish and appears as though he is not even capable of loving. Louisa is keeping secrets from her past from Richard and has little faith in her daughter. Melissa is angry and in need of a friend. Angela is stuck on an event from her past that is making her miserable and makes the reader question her sanity. Dominic is a bit of a twit. He is a coward and untrustworthy. Daisy is confused and seems very sure of herself in some ways, but extremely insecure in others. Alex is a teenage boy. Enough said. And Benjy lives in his own little world, is a bit of a strange child, and does not know how to deal when adult issues sneak their way into his world. I think that when people read this they will either relate to the messed up family (not in the same ways, but most of our families ARE messed up, let’s be honest) or will feel better about their lives and realize they are not as messed up as they thought they were. Or maybe both haha.
I have to admit, there were small sections of the book in which I had absolutely NO idea what the author was talking about. Maybe if I did understand them my eyes would be open to another dimension of the book, but I feel as though I understood the storyline fairly well.
If you are a fan of British stories, like messed up storylines, or just want to try something different, give The Red House a try. You might be surprised (as I was) to find yourself really enjoying it! I give this book a 3/5.
Happy Reading!
Next Review: Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

The Sarah Jio review is a special review, so be sure to check it out! It will be posted on Friday!!!!!

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