Instructions for a Heatwave

Instructions for a Heatwave

by Maggie O'Farrell
3.6 9


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Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

London, 1976. In the thick of a record-breaking heatwave, Gretta Riordan’s newly retired husband has cleaned out his bank account and vanished. Now, for the first time in years, Gretta calls her children home : Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, whose blighted past has driven a wedge between her and her younger sister; and Aoife, the youngest, whose new life in Manhattan is elaborately arranged to conceal a devastating secret.
       In a story that stretches from the Upper West Side to a village on the coast of Ireland, Maggie O’Farrell explores the mysteries that inhere within families, and reveals the fault lines over which we build our lives. Instructions for a Heatwave weaves an unforgettable narrative of a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life-changing truths about who they really are. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385349406
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/18/2013
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.72(w) x 9.34(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Maggie O’Farrell is the author of After You’d Gone, winner of a Betty Trask Award; My Lover’s Lover; The Distance Between Us, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox; The Hand That First Held Mine, winner of a Costa Novel Award; and Instructions for a Heatwave, shortlisted for the Costa Award.  

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Instructions for a Heat Wave 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I devoured this book. O'Farrell writes with such beautiful precision that it's hard to believe the characters not still carrying on their lives somewhere in the world.  This is a wonderfully spun story of a family on the verge of falling apart after many years of misunderstandings and betrayals- big and small- and their efforts to come together when their father mysteriously disappears. His leaving was an extraordinary act by a man who had been profoundly ordinary his entire life. It is told with compassion. humor and wonderful insights into the complexity of being a family of adults. Highly recommend!
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
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.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
Maggie O'Farrell has constructed a year of almost collapse in one family as the heat spell in 1976, England, wears down everyone and everything in the continuing drought.  Thoroughly Irish, Gretta Riordan, has been enjoying her husband's new retirement status, until one day when he walks out with all their money and doesn't return.  She's made panic calls to her three grown children, who are all in the middle of their own near disastrous lives.  This well written tale focuses a microscope on this one family and all their faults and failings as they reconnect to find their husband and father. At first glance, thus seems like just one more sad family tale, but the expert writing adds so much emotion and involvement with the characters that I was drawn into the cleaver connection between the increasingly difficult and uncomfortable heat wave, and the inter workings of a family on the deep end of coming to terms with "truths" in their lives. Different but successful story line.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I adored this story. The author's subtle portrayals of the characters made me feel as tho I was there growing up with them myself. She truely captured, in beautiful language, the power that only familial love has to rise above the destruction of secrets.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I too devoured this book. I did not want it to end. I have fallen in love with the Riordans and will miss them terribly. If you love a book about a family and all of it's parts, good and bad, left out for you to devour...then this is the book for you! ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While reading this book I was so frustrated with the characters and their interactions w/ each other, bravo to the author for making me feel the true disfunction of the family. Not one of my favorites by this writer but well written as usual.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very frustrating book. Author let us engage with the characters just enough to be interested in them, but then sort of left everything hanging. I guess the main point of the story Was about the father leaving and everyone pulling together in an effort to find him, but there were several side stories that could have been elaborated on. I was left wanting more, but definitely frustrated at the lazy ending and the lack of an explanation of why?