Mark Haddon – The Red House is a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time now. I touched briefly upon it in my Reading List July 2019 post, but I love Mark Haddon’s work. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and A Spot of Bother are two of my most favourite books. I love how Haddon touches on breakdowns, illnesses and social difficulty in a believable and sympathetic and almost imperceptible way. By that I mean it was clear that Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident had asperger’s, but it was revealed in a clever way, the writer didn’t put a flashing light above his head that read “behavioural difficulties”.
Anyway, I am digressing. This book is about two families that come together after a family bereavement. Angela and Richard are estranged siblings and through reading the book you understand why their relationship is strained, their own demons and those of their respective families.
The children are Alex, Daisy and Benjy (Angela and Dom’s children), and Melissa (Louisa’s daughter). Louisa is Richard’s wife and Dominic is Angela’s husband. The children are by and large, a lot more engaging than the adults. The only exception is Melissa, who I found dislikable and had no character arc at all, even if it was alluded to at times.
Daisy has a “coming of age” sort of experience, and Alex wrestles with the responsibility of being the “man of the house” as everyone views Dom as a bit of a wet blanket.
Angela is clearly the most troubled character, as she seems to have suffered the most trauma, with regards to the memories of her family life when she was a child, and something that happened in her adult life. Her story is engaging but there was something about her that stopped me from engaging with her as a person. It is perhaps the grudge she held against Richard.
The ending is realistic, if not fulfilling. I’m not going to give too much away, but perhaps by the end you’d have wanted an extra 20 pages, that could have been chopped off the beginning (it was quite a slow burner).
Have you ever read The Red House by Mark Haddon? What did you think of it?