I don’t suffer from synaesthesia, but occasionally I find that novels evoke colours, or at least a colour scheme. James Salter’s Light Years comes to me as if through a filter that turns everything a soft crepuscular yellow; Woolf’s The Waves is a murky, mythic, Pre-Raphaelitish green; Wallace’s Infinite Jest is similar but kaleidoscopic, packed with vibrant colours like the hundreds and thousands on children’s ice cream. This is pretty much the opposite of The Red House, Mark Haddon’s new book, which, despite its name, will be forever fixed in my mind as a washed-out blue-grey, the colour dramas used to be on BBC Two.
Set in the Welsh borders, the novel takes place over a week as Richard, a confident hospital consultant with a new wife and stepdaughter, tries to reconnect with his estranged sister, Angela, and her family while they all holiday in a rented house.
All of them have their issues, of course,