The Red House by Mark Haddon - review

(5 ratings)
The red house

What's The Red House about?

After the death of their mother, Richard invites his estranged sister Angela to join him and both their families on a week's holiday in a rented house in Wales. Tensions are running high, with 4 adults, 3 teenagers and an 8 year old who likes beheading Nazi zombies...

The story is told from all 8 perspectives on a day-by-day basis. Over each day of the holiday you learn a little more about the past of the characters, their lovers, grudges and problems - all of them facing ghosts from the past.

Will Richard and Angela ever be able to move on from past arguments? Will 16-year-old Daisy reveal what's really bothering her? And will Angela ever be able to come to terms with the loss of her stillborn daughter, Karen, 18 years ago?

goodtoknow says: What's lovely about The Red House is that it's a story about 8 very average people, but we get to know them all on a very intimate basis, which makes them fascinating to follow. Don't expect something similar to either of Mark's previous books (The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-time and A Spot of Bother), this one has elements of humour, but it veers towards the darker side of the scale. His insightful writing style will transport you to their wet (and slightly miserable) holiday and will leave you feeling stuck in the middle of a very modern family's complicated politics involving step families, children coming of age and grief - in its rawest form. Whose side will you be on?

Rating: 7/10

You'll like this if you liked: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Publish date: Out now

Buy it now on Amazon

More book reviews in the goodtoknow Book Club. Have you read The Red House? What did you think? Join in with the goodtoknow Book Club by leaving your review in the comments box below.

Where to next?

Continued below...


The Angel at No.33 by Polly Williams - review

Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan - review

See the new titles in goodtoknow's 2013 Book Club


Your rating

Average rating

  • 3
(5 ratings)

Your comments

Catherine Joynson

The Red House in question is the rented holiday home that Richard invites his sister to share after the funeral of their Mother. Richard brings his second wife and her daughter and Angela her husband and three children. They do not know each other very well and all of them have worries and personal demons. The characters are portrayed well, and we follow their thoughts and interaction as the week progresses. This was an enjoyable and challenging read, but I felt that the ending was a bit unsatisfying.

Rach A James

Well.....if you're looking for something light and fluffy to take on holiday with you - leave this book at home! On the other hand, if you're thinking about going on a family holiday and aren't sure whether to or not, read this book first to find out why you should stay at home or go alone!! Quite difficult to follow in places, hard to sort out which bits were relevant to which character and some pieces seemed completely pointless (sorry!). Have to say that by the time you've ploughed your way through this book you'll feel more like the family have been on holiday together for a month rather than a week! I'm not saying that you shouldn't read it, just wait for a bright and sunny day, not one that's already gloomy and dark before you start reading!


Not too sure about this book. It took a while to get used to the writing style, the continuos change of points of view of each character, and a lot of the time I didn't know which character the thoughts belonged to until the end of the paragraph, so then I had to read through the paragraph again with that character in mind. Once I got used to that it was an OK story. Nothing amazing happened, it was just a very average familiy with problems going on holiday to a very average place and spending the week together. I'm not saying that is a bad thing, but it just wasn't exciting enough for me.

Helena de Oliveira

A favourite holiday read was Honeymoon, by Amy Jenkins. I really liked the likelihood of unlikely events happen! It all starts in a girl's hen night, with thoughts about the love of her life who is not the lovely guy she's getting married with... Although sometimes it may seem somewhat superfluous, it covers subjects that touch us all, choices and hilarious events, as we always question what we have, if we do not always know what we want, or want what we have. The pages just turn so easily and every now and then a good laugh comes out!

comments powered by Disqus

FREE Newsletter