Instructions For A Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell
Genre; Contemporary fiction
A portrait of an Irish family in crisis in the legendary heatwave of 1976. 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. Maggie O’Farrell’s sixth book is the work of an outstanding novelist at the height of her powers.
This one is another of my holiday reads. (Tenacity was the first and there are plenty more to come!) As I was away for two glorious weeks I wanted to make sure I mixed up my reading styles so as to not become over saturated with one genre.
When Instructions For A Heatwave was released in 2013 I’d heard lots of great things about it through the Twitter reading community but I hadn’t got around to reading it. As I was preparing for my holiday I considered what reading material I’d need – as you have to! And because I obviously don’t have enough on my kindle alone… – this book immediately came to mind due to the title. I went into the bookstore, read the blurb, thought it was my cup of tea for my non-crime reading days and quickly purchased it.
I won’t even say whether I was around for the heatwave or if I remember it or not!
Heatwave (yes, I’m now shortening the title. I’m very sorry Maggie O’Farrell!) is a wonderful book. I found the first few pages a bit slow, as I’m used to someone being murdered pretty quickly, but once I continued reading I soon found myself engrossed in the worlds of these people. Of this family. They became real to me. I was invested and attached. I was rooting for them and sad for them. Cheering for them and holding my breath for them.
Yes, someone goes missing and it could be classed as a mystery if you wanted to stretch it, but it’s a family story, a story about wife Gretta and her children; Michael Francis, Monica and Aiofe. How their lives are now and how – as they look through the house that used to be their home for clues about their father – their lives were back then, and we find out that families are complicated. Each person individual. But ultimately they’re all there together for the same reason.
I did want the book to continue after it had actually ended as I didn’t feel I had all the answers I wanted, but O’Farrell is masterful with her keyboard and I would definitely read more by her. A great poolside read!