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The Red House: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 273 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders
"The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip" by George Saunders
Featuring fifty-two haunting and hilarious images, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip is a modern fable for people of all ages that touches on the power of kindness, generosity, compassion, and community. Learn more | See author page

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of their mother's death, disconnected siblings Angela and Richard come together with their families for a week in the English countryside. There, the eight family members find themselves lost, disoriented, or challenged by the family past and present. Narrator Maxwell Caulfield has the monumental task of capturing and juggling these different characters, and, unfortunately, doesn't rise to the task. While his narration is magisterial and crisp, and he captures the book's mood throughout, he unfortunately uses the same tone and projection for each character. This confuses listeners about which character is speaking and proves disorienting and distracting. A full cast might have better executed this audio edition. A Doubleday hardcover. (June)


"A beautiful object that will grace any holiday home's unfixably wobbly bedside table. The cover feels like a cracked china plate, decorated with a clever re-working of the willow-pattern; like the contents, it is subtle and clever. Haddon writes superb books for children, teenagers and grown-ups, and gets every voice in this one dead right. He is also a master craftsman, so this complicated narrative moves with the speed and certainty of released, unhappy holidaymakers hitting the homeward road. So shove this in your holidaying bag. You may have made a mistake with the booking, but you won't with the book" -- Susan Jeffreys Independent "Mark Haddon is terrifyingly talented... The Red House is thoroughly engrossing and enjoyable entertainment" -- Angus Clarke The Times "A hugely enjoyable, sympathetic novel...a tremendous pleasure...we have been absorbed, entertained and moved" -- Kate Kellaway Observer "Rather like with Alan Ayckbourn's plays, what makes The Red House engaging is the quality of the writing. 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 carries you along. I read it twice, both times with enjoyment" -- Amanda Craig Independent on Sunday "With writing as elegant and truthful as this, readers will wish to keep their copies close at hand to savour again" -- Michael Arditti Daily Mail

Product Details

  • File Size: 2696 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 12, 2012)
  • Publication Date: June 12, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006NKNGJ8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,357 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Red House is a closely observed domestic drama that gives the impression of being a random slice-of-life, but in which every character is coming to terms with something or experiencing a revelation. The action is subtle and often interior, and what really counts is not what happens so much as the sharp observations of how people behave and feel, and the gap between the two.

Some readers may be put off by the style in which Haddon relates this complexly dysfunctional family drama. The novel opens impressionistically, introducing eight people speeding towards the same spot by train and car. Images rush past windows, glimpsed and gone. The destination is a self-catering holiday cottage near Hay-on-Wye, where there will be "Scrabble, a tatty box in some drawer, a pack of fifty-one playing cards, a pamphlet from a goat farm". And, of course, rain. The week's holiday has been arranged by wealthy, middle-aged Richard, attempting to reconcile with his long-estranged sister Angela in the wake of their mother's death. As adult children of emotionally damaged parents, their shared past has left them with different impressions and sympathies, as well as a raft of baggage which has impacted on their own families. Richard is married to second wife Louisa, a pretty fortysomething from a few rungs down the social ladder; Angela's spouse is Dominic. Jaded, beset by financial worries, their marriage has declined into a state of loveless habit. They bring along 17-year-old Alex, aching with testosterone, 16-year-old Daisy, who has recently found God, and eight-year-old Benjy, a fearful child struggling with the first pangs of existential angst.
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83 of 90 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In "The Red House," by Mark Haddon, forty-seven year old Angela is disconsolate after burying her mother, who had been ailing for quite a while. "Her [mother's] death should have been a relief," but strangely, it hurt more than she expected. Partly to get away from it all, Angela decides to accept an unexpected invitation from Richard, her estranged brother. Along with her husband, Dominic, and their three children, seventeen-year-old Alex, sixteen-year-old Daisy, and eight-year-old Benjy, Angela will spend a week near "the fine sandy beaches of Herefordshire" with Richard, his second wife, Louisa, and Louisa's surly sixteen-year-old, Melissa.

This makes for an uncomfortable mix, to say the least. These eight individuals all have secrets, longings, and resentments. Haddon gives each person a voice, revealing his or her regrets, fears, and desires. Benjy is a nervous child with a vivid imagination; Daisy has become ostentatiously religious; Alex is athletic--all hormones and machismo; Melissa is sharp-edged and sarcastic; and forty-four year old Louisa is vulnerable and sensitive. Richard, although prosperous, has professional and personal issues of his own, and Dominic is very much aware that he has been a poor breadwinner and his marriage is faltering. Angela is in the worst shape of all. She still mourns the loss of her stillborn baby eighteen years earlier, eats for comfort, and worries that she will eventually become demented like her mother.

This does not sound too cheery, does it? In fact, "The Red House" is a dour exploration of family dysfunction in which Haddon interweaves figurative language and symbolism with his characters' inner thoughts and dialogue. Some of the writing is pretentious, if not downright bizarre.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful By L. Young VINE VOICE on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved 'The Curious Incident of the Dog', so I looked forward to reading 'The Red House'. Disappointment quickly ensued when I read this disjointed and irritating novel. It's the story of a dysfunctional family in England. Richard, a successful physician and recently re-married to Louisa, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family on a vacation to the English countryside. In addition to the adults there are four children, three belonging to Angela and her husband Dominic and one belonging to Louisa from a previous marriage. The adults are bitter, the children are moody and sullen. Is there anything new here? No.

The book jacket touts this as a 'dazzlingly inventive novel'. It's called inventive because what story there is is told in a series of epidsodic paragraphs. Each paragraph tells us what a character might be thinking, or the lyrics of a song they are listening to, or lines in a book they are reading. The result is a disjointed mess. Most often it is difficult to determine who is speaking, thinking or reading. This quickly degenerates into an irritating exercise for the reader and this reader quickly lost interest in the story Haddon is trying to tell.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Luiz on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time and A Spot of Bother, so I was very excited once I heard about this novel, and then became utterly disappointed with what a chore this one is to read. It's told in a stream of consciousness style when eight people get together -- an estranged brother and sister and their two families for a week of vacation after the brother and sister's mother died. The point of view shifts from one person's interior thoughts to the next from one paragraph to another, but often the switch occurs within a paragraph. Countless times throughout the book you have to re-read sections to figure out whose point of view it is, and a several times it's impossible to guess. Often there are passages when we get excerpts of what someone is reading -- and you can't always be sure which character it is. While this may be interesting the first few times, it quickly becomes tedious. Then there are riffs like this one:

Marja, Helmand. The sniper far back enough from the window to stop sun flaring on the rifle sight. Crack and kickback. A marine stumbles under the weight of his red buttonhole. Dawn light on wile horses in the Kentii Mountains. Huddershfield, brown sugar bubbling in a tarnished spoon. Turtles drown in oil. The purr of binary, a trillion ones and zeroes. The swill of bonds and futures. Reckitt Benckiser, Smith and Nephew. Rifts and magma chambers. Eyjafjallajokull smoking like a witch's cauldron.

It goes on like this for many more lines -- I'm not sure what it's supposed to be -- descriptions of all that's going on in the world, while these 8 people try to make sense of their lives?

Late in the book, we just get a long list of every item in a novelty shop the characters visit.
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