Instructions for a Heatwave

Instructions for a Heatwave

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Maggie O'Farrell

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  • Publisher: Tinder Press
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 23mm | 241g
  • Publication date: 29 August 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0755358791
  • ISBN 13: 9780755358793
  • Sales rank: 7,450

Product description

A story of a dysfunctional but deeply loveable family reunited, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE already feels like a contemporary classic. It was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta's children - two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce - back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.

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Author information

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of six novels, AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, and INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

Customer reviews

By Librarian Lavender 14 Feb 2014 5

When Robert Riordan disappears all of Gretta's children come home. Michael Francis, Monica and Aoife all have their own problems and Monica and Aoife have issues with each other. Gretta never says directly what she means and it takes her children a long time to figure out what she knows.
I loved this family, mostly because of their quirks. All of them have secrets and they have to come to terms with them. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next, if something would come out, if things were going to be all right, etc. I felt like I was part of the story. Gretta and Robert are Irish and that's something that plays an important role in the book. They live in England and their children have been raised with as much of the Irish culture as possible. Gretta wants them to hang on to that, but that doesn't really happen. Everyone is disappointed with something and they are all fighting to accept themselves and one another. The story is so well written and I couldn't get enough of it. The ending was absolutely perfect as well.

By Marianne Vincent 03 Dec 2013 5

Instructions For A Heatwave is the sixth novel by British author, Maggie O'Farrell. On a July Thursday at the height of Britain's 1976 heatwave, Robert Riordan goes out as usual for the morning paper but doesn't return. When no trace of him can be found, his wife, Gretta calls her daughter in Gloucester, Monica, who is having a drama of her own. Eventually, Gretta's son, Michael Francis manages to contact his younger sister, Aoife in New York, and the siblings come together at their family home to decide what is to be done. It is a gathering filled with tensions, as Aoife and Monica have been estranged for years. Not only that, but undercurrents flow as each character is dealing with shameful secrets of their own. While this could make for heavy going, the dialogue between the characters, the family dynamics and some moments of delicious irony provide a comic relief that lifts the story. As O'Farrell skilfully builds her story, the various mysteries, some from more than thirty years ago, unfold over four days. Abortion, dyslexia, divorce, betrayal, adultery, draft dodging, a dead cat, an Irish convent and a deep abiding love all feature. O'Farrell's characters are interesting and complex; they are larger than life and so very real. Her prose is a joy to experience: the feel of the heatwave is expertly conveyed and the descriptions are wonderfully evocative. "And then, it seemed to Monica, the baby opened her mouth and started to scream and that she did not stop screaming for a long time. - She screamed if laid flat, even for a moment.her legs - would work up and down, as if she was a toy with a winding mechanism, her face would crumple in on itself and the room would fill with jagged sounds that could have cut you, if you'd stood too close." and "She cannot read. She cannot do that thing that other people find so artlessly easy: to see arrangements of inked shapes on a page and alchemise them into meaning." are just two examples. A brilliant read.

By Tania Hyde 23 Sep 2013 3

This is almost a book about nothing but still pretty good. I read it in 2 sittings. You've got to love it when a hypocrite gets his/her (I don't want to spoil anything) comeuppance! Don't forget your hankie! (and no, it's not sad)

Review quote

The Riordans will stay in your mind long after you finish this book. They're funny, infuriating and impossible not to love. They feel like family Irish Times My favourite kind of novel: big-hearted, psychologically complex and utterly gripping -- Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette Unputdownable -- Joanna Briscoe, Guardian Instantly appealing...magical Daily Telegraph Masterful...holds you on an exquisite knife-edge Marie Claire An author at the top of her game Sunday Express O'Farrell's language is lissom, airborne, mostly seamless, her characters flawed, contradictory, aggravating and instantly knowable. This is a deceptively easy, effortlessly true-feeling novel; a total delight Metro A quite wonderful novel...at once enthralling, page turning and atmospheric Irish Examiner