Happy families


I think this book is rather unique in its structure and scope. We are taken into a situation where a brother and sister (Richard and angela) and their respective families are brought together by a family holiday. Richard, a successful and well-off consultant doctor has offered to pay for a family trip to the welsh borders. Angela’s husband Dominic is in lower paid employment but does not command the respect of his teenage daughter Daisy or his son Alex. His third child Benjamin is young and still filled with that youthful sense of wonder. It would appear that Dominic is having an affair, adding colour but not real biting drama here. Daisy, however, has some significant identity issues which are deftly drawn in this text.

Richard has a second wife,Louisa who comes along with her daughter Melissa. Here we are shown that Melissa brings a sense of reality into Richards world and even he is not immune to internal wranglings with the problems of not wishing to capitulate to the sag of middle age.

Here; Mark haddon is digging deep into the machinations of families looking at the glue which binds us and the things which define each member of a family as unique from the youngest to the oldest. From those who are at the beginning of their lived to those who are almost at the end. Here we see the thoughts of teenagers and the inner workings of sibling rivalry.

I’m not saying that the style entirely suits me but I am intrigued by its rather unique structure.

We see this period as a series of vignettes from a first person perspective but written as an observer. I don’t think I can recollect any other book written in this way. The dialogue is muted and this is a book which is not driven by dialogue.

It is a poke under the bonnet of people’s upbringing and how this impacts on their present. A glimpse into the innermost thoughts and fears which underpin the way they work.

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