Set during the legendary summer of 1976, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE by Maggie O'Farrell was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award and was a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller.
'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
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.
When Gretta Riordan's husband, Robert, disappears during the 1976 London heatwave, her three grown children return home for the first time in years. All are dealing with personal crises that inform their relationships with each other and are tied back to their family history. The oldest, Michael Francis, is trying to keep his marriage together as his wife yearns for independence, and his two sisters, Monica and Aoife, have been estranged for years over a bitter secret that led Aoife across the ocean to New York, where she has made a life for herself while hiding her illiteracy. Under the stress of searching for their father and enduring the unbearable heat which causes people to "act not so much out of character but deep within it" the siblings and their mother are forced to confront old resentments which bubble to the surface. O'Farrell skillfully navigates between past and present, as family secrets are revealed and old grudges are hashed out, without ever losing the narrative's pace. An absorbing read from start to finish, through O'Farrell's vibrant prose, each character comes alive as more is revealed and the novel unfolds.
Instructions for a heat wave
A fabulous book!
I read this book as I was Ill on holiday and was unable to leave our chalet. I don't read much at all but a friend had taken this with them so I flicked through it and couldn't put it down.
A must read ! It's made me start reading again!
Great book, a bit too short? What next?
Instructions for a Heatwave
I read the first three chapters in bed one evening when I'd not been feeling well. In the morning I knew who all the characters were (not always true in my case!). They are vividly real, and I read the rest the next evening. I don't know how she does it, but the whole book involved me. My only fear was that so much pleasure would end in disappointment. But it didn't.