Richard and Angela, the sibling protagonists of Mark Haddon’s latest novel, have varying views of their now-deceased mother. As for their father, Angela has no memory of him, while Richard remembers him vividly.
At the book’s outset, the only thing the pair have in common is that they’re both locked in rocky marriages: he to Louisa, a trophy wife with a checkered past, and she to Dominic, a former jazz musician who’s having an affair with a woman named Amy. Angela and Dominic have three children: eight-year-old Benjy, religious teenager Daisy and high-school jock Alex. As for Louisa, she has a teenage daughter from a prior marriage, the posh and punky Melissa.
The Red House follows the actions of the estranged Richard and Angela, as well as their complicated families, as they all take a holiday together. The story, which is told in the present tense and often through dialogue, feels like a dry British sitcom – until the soap-opera revelations start piling up.