Saturday, 20 July 2013

Book Review No.14: The Red House

Book number 14 of the year was sort of, kind of my suggestion at Book Club No.2. We had somehow started talking about The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which is probably this author's best-known book. Those of us who had read it (5 out of 6 of us) all agreed that it was a great read; I then mentioned that the author had a new book out and, since we were keen to read more 'current' books rather than older ones, it was decided that this new book should be our next read. I was super excited to get hold of the book and the next time I was in Yeovil I popped into Waterstones and made it mine (with a Buy One, Get One Half Price offer.) Fast forward a couple of weeks and we were on holiday in Spain and there were lots of reading opportunities to be had. I flew through the first two books (reviews 12 & 13) because I was happy to leave those behind; and then I started on the one I'd been looking forward to - The Red House by Mark Haddon. It was perfect timing as I managed to finish it on the plane on the way home (what luck that we had those two extra days on holiday!)
The story is set in (and around) a holiday home near Hay on Wye which has been rented by Richard for his family and that of his estranged sister, in the wake of the death of their mother. Richard is looking for a way to reconnect with his sister, and he hopes a week of enforced time spent together will do the trick. The book follows each of the characters (four adults and four children - if I remember rightly) randomly throughout their week's holiday. Of course, each character has more than their fair share of flaws, or it could be that normal behaviour is made out to be flawed when looked at in such microscopic detail. There's no real plot, just the story of a couple of (dysfunctional) families spending time together when really they would all rather be somewhere/anywhere else. The book is written in a stream of consciousness style which I found difficult to follow, not to mention way too literary and, dare I say, pretentious for my liking. It took me quite a while to form any attachment to any of the characters; I was probably a good two-thirds of the way through by the time I decided the book was just about ok. I'm glad to see that plenty of other reviewers on Amazon have felt the same, so it's not just me being a grumpy reader yet again. Oh yes, and the book is sooooooo modern and with it, that the author has dispensed with speech marks because clearly they are old-fashioned, unnecessary little things. Yep, just to add to my frustrations with the plot (lack thereof), dysfunctional characters (yawn), pretentious stream of consciousness literary style (gaaaah), the punctuation is partly dispensed with (why?!?) Back to the cozy crime shelves for me.

1 comment:

  1. This one has been on my Amazon Wish List, but after your review I may give it a miss.


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