In this new novel from Mark Haddon (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), estranged brother and sister Richard and Angela and their families meet for a week at an isolated Welsh vacation rental and inevitably collide. Richard’s desire to reconnect—”They had spent 20 years avoiding each other and he couldn’t remember why”—threatens to dissolve tenuous ties between and within the families. Daisy, Angela’s adolescent daughter, faces an existential crisis, and her brother Alex falls victim to raging hormones; neither is prepared for master manipulator Melissa, Richard’s teen stepdaughter, who is sexy and narcissistic. The adults stand by helpless and hapless, with Angela heading for a nervous breakdown. The question Angela is bewildered by—how much of how we see ourselves is shaped by family, and vice versa—is examined by Haddon brilliantly, compassionately and at times with humour.
The Red House, Mark Haddon, $30.