From the book
Haddon / THE RED HOUSEfriday
Cooling towers and sewage farms. Finstock, Charlbury, Ascott-under-Wychwood. Seventy miles per hour, the train unzips the fields. Two gun-gray lines beside the river's meander. Flashes of sun on the hammered metal. Something of steam about it, even now. Hogwarts and Adlestrop. The night mail crossing the border. Cheyenne sweeping down from the ridge. Delta blues from the boxcar. Somewhere, those secret points that might just switch and send you curving into a world of uniformed porters and great-aunts and summers at the lake.
Angela leant against the cold window, hypnotized by the power lines as they sagged and were scooped up by the next gantry, over and over and over. Polytunnels like silver mattresses, indecipherable swirls of graffiti on a brick siding. She'd buried her mother six weeks ago. A bearded man in a suit with shiny elbows playing "Danny Boy" on Northumbrian pipes. Everything off-kilter, the bandage on the vicar's hand, that woman chasing her windblown hat between the headstones, the dog that belonged to no one. She thought her mother had left the world a long way back, the weekly visits mostly for Angela's own benefit. Boiled mutton, Classic FM and a commode in flesh-colored plastic. Her death should have been a relief. Then the first spade of earth hit the coffin, a bubble rose in her chest and she realized her mother had been what . . . ? A cornerstone? A breakwater?
The week after the funeral Dominic had been standing at the sink bottle-brushing the green vase. The last of the freak snow was still packed down the side of the shed and the rotary washing line was turning in the wind. Angela came in holding the phone as if it was a mystery object she'd found on the hall table. That was Richard.
Dominic upended the vase on the wire rack. And what did he want?
He's offered to take us on holiday.
He dried his hands on the tea towel. Are we talking about your brother, or some entirely different Richard?
We are indeed talking about my brother.
He really had no idea what to say. Angela and Richard had spent no more than an afternoon in each other's company over the last fifteen years and their meeting at the funeral had seemed perfunctory at best. Where's the exotic location?
He's rented a house on the Welsh border. Near Hay-on-Wye.
The fine sandy beaches of Herefordshire. He halved the tea towel and hung it over the radiator.
I said yes.
Well, thanks for the consultation.
Angela paused and held his eye. Richard knows we can't afford a holiday of our own. I'm not looking forward to it any more than you, but I didn't have a great deal of choice.
He held up his hands. Point taken. They'd had this argument way too many times. Herefordshire it is then.
Ordnance Survey 161. The Black Mountains / Y Mynyddoedd Duon. Dominic flipped up the pink cover and unfolded the big paper concertina. He had loved maps since he was a boy. Here be monsters. X marks the spot. The edges of the paper browned and scalloped with a burning match, messages flashed from peak to peak using triangles of broken mirror.
He looked sideways at Angela. So hard to remember that girl on the far side of the union bar, her shoulders in that blue summer dress. She disgusted him now, the size and sag of her, the veins on her calves, almost a grandmother. He dreamt of her dying unexpectedly, rediscovering all those freedoms...
Author: Mark Haddon
MARK HADDON is the author of the international bestseller, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year award; and the New York Times bestseller A Spot of Bother. In addition to The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has also written and illustrated numerous award-winning children's books and television screenplays.
"Absorbing.... Even if you don't see your relatives in these pages, you'll learn to appreciate their ungainly efforts to reach out and maintain those old filial bonds....What holds our interest is Haddon's extraordinary sympathy, his ability to reveal what stirs these people beneath their congenial holiday faces....a brilliant portrayal of the asymmetric nature of resentment within families....But it's Hardon's peculiar structure that raises this family drama to something exceptional. He's perfected a constantly shifting perspective that keeps our sympathies from taking root in any one of these characters....the effect is symphonic....Haddon wends a careful path in this novel between the effervescent comedy of quirky families and the bitter tragedy of dysfunctional ones." - The Washington Post
"A story of remarkable complexity, exploring the rich interior lives of his characters.....Most impressive is the ambitious structure of this novel....there's an abundance of dark humor....the story moves along swiftly and seamlessly." - USA Today
""The story unfolds from all eight characters' points of view, a tricky strategy that pays off, letting Haddon dig convincingly into all of the failures, worries and weaknesses that they can't leave behind" - Entertainment Weekly
"Particularly fresh and true" - O Magazine
"A beautiful and authentic portrait of a blended family and the secrets, grudges and desires that keep its members apart" - Real Simple
"In Mark Haddon's The Red House, a nuclear family detonates delightfully....particular, vivid, attentive....a wonderful perspective" - Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A fun, fast-paced read from one of our finest storytellers" - Dallas Morning News
"THE RED HOUSE employs the same empathy for its varied characters and the same sharply observed, skewed view of the 'ordinary' world....creates a mosaic whose pieces add up to a picture no one character can see....satisfying and believable....Haddon writes with a gentle, compassionate sense of irony" - Columbus Dispatch
"Exciting and accessible" - The Daily Beast
"Amusing and poignant as it explores a family's fumbling attempts at connection" - Whole Living
"Surprising and deeply moving....the set-up ensures that there will be revelations, twists and shifts in the family dynamic....sustaining suspense....while enriching the developing relationships among people....organic rather than contrived, the characters convincing throughout, the tone compassionate and the writing wise. A novel to savor." - Kirkus, starred review
"[Haddon] is almost unrivalled at the notoriously tricky task of giving an authentic voice to children, and his ability to pinpoint the comic aspects of the everyday scenarios."--Sunday Times"A masterly evocation of two dysfunctional, yet outwardly respectable families." - Sunday Express
"Mark Haddon is terrifyingly talented." - Times (UK)
"A serious, lyrical, complex novel....beautiful" - The Herald
"Hugely enjoyable, sympathetic novel would make perfect reading for those setting out on holiday" - The Observer
"[Haddon is] a master craftsman"--The Independent"With writing as elegant and truthful as this, readers will wish to keep their copies close at hand to savour again."--The Daily Mail"[Haddon] writes like a dream. Never showy, but often lyrically descriptive, he takes the reader with him to the core of this crazy family. Secondly, he has a true understanding of the human heart." - Spectator
"It's every bit as charmingly idiosyncratic as his brilliant The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time." - The Daily Mirror
"Engaging....From the first page in which the train carrying Dominic and Angela's family "unzips the fields", there is a vigor to Haddon's prose which ca - The Independent