HADDON, Mark. The Red House (2012). London: Vintage Books, 2013.
‘Angela and her brother Richard have spent twenty years avoiding each other. Now, after the death of their mother, they bring their families together for a holiday in a rented house on the Welsh border. Four adults and four children. Seven days of shared meals, log fires, card games and wet walks.’
Just like any other novel by Mark Haddon, this is an insultingly ordinary story turned astonishingly attractive because of his talented writing. Imagine a Christmas family meal with those relatives you only see on those mandatory occasions extended to a full-week holiday on a cottage in the mountains. What kind of interactions can you expect? Who’s going to get along with whom? Who’s going to fall out with whom? Is it possible to go unnoticed for that long? Is it possible to be nice for that long? The Red House gives an answer—or a possible one—to all these questions and a lot more.
It goes without saying that I delight in Mark Haddon’s style. He seems to grasp the essence of the human mind and interactions and delivers that obvious observation nobody managed to convey in words.
Should his name doesn’t ring any bell, his first novel will: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. And he surely won’t mind me saying (as well as I won’t mind him sending me a free copy of his next novel in gratitude for my advertising) that you shouldn’t miss his second novel either: A Spot of Bother.