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Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie…
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Instructions for a Heatwave (2013)

by Maggie O'Farrell

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7234919,637 (3.7)89
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» See also 89 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
This is yet another book that is well-written and has all the ingredients for a great read but fell short. I enjoy novels featuring family dramas, dysfunctional families and complicated sibling relationships. This book has all that in spades but yet failed to fully engage me.

When their father, Robert, disappears, the adult Riordan children gather in their hometown, and with Gretta, their mother, try to piece together the clues and find him. Along the way, long-held family secrets are revealed, and misunderstandings and grievances are aired. The only problem was I didn’t care. And while I don’t need a book’s ending to be neatly tied in a bow, to deny the reader some type of resolution/closure to the entire premise of the novel felt like cheating.

I have no idea what bearing the title has on the book but to call 90 degrees a strange heatwave seemed a little laughable to me, where 90 degree summer days are the norm.
( )
  janb37 | Feb 13, 2017 |
The grown children of an Irish family living (well, mostly) in England gather together to deal with the strange disappearance of their father, who went out for a paper one morning and didn't come back. Each of them, as is traditional in this sort of dysfunctional family story, has their own secrets, their own miseries, and their own crises to deal with, as well as various difficulties in relating to each other.

This, I think, is one of those books that had to grow on me, or at least one that I ended up liking more than I initially thought I was going to. For quite a while, as I was reading, my main thought (other than "as someone who lives in New Mexico, I cannot take the British idea of what constitutes a heatwave seriously") was that I had to give O'Farrell a lot of points for making the characters realistic and sympathetic despite the fact that I found none of them very likeable, but that I wasn't feeling quite as fully engaged with their lives as is generally necessary for this sort of of novel to be fully satisfying. And yet, by the end, I'd somehow come to care about these people, to feel a sort of family connection to them that completely transcends the question of whether I like them or not. So, it may not be a perfect novel -- there were a couple of moments where a narrative quirk threw me out of the story a for a moment, for instance -- but I do have to call it a successful one. ( )
  bragan | Nov 26, 2016 |
Very enjoyable, a gaze upon family relationships that was falloff sentiment without being cloyingly sentimental ( )
  jkdavies | Jun 14, 2016 |
Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel 'Instructions for a Heatwave' is an entertaining story set in London during the heatwave of 1976. In the first chapter we are introduced to Gretta Riordan, an Irish Catholic woman and mother of three grown-up children. One day her husband, Robert, a retired bank employee, goes out for his daily newspaper just as he does every morning, only today he doesn't return home. As the day wears on, Gretta becomes more worried and when she is told Robert has taken money and his passport, she realizes that her husband had no intention of returning home to her when he left their house that morning.

The three children return home to support their mother and assist with the search. Michael Francis comes from across town, Monica comes up from London and Aoife flies home from New York where she has been living for the last eight years. All of the children are dealing with their own issues (marriage problems, long held grudges, and other tightly held secrets). Gretta is also nursing her own secrets. The siblings do not search the streets for their father, they search the house for clues. When they stumble across some scraps of paper they have no idea how much this will affect their past and give them more questions than answers.

I thought the first half of the book was slow moving as we meet the characters and discover what their stories are. The book seems to speed up about fifty pages in and I started to feel that I was looking in on real people at their most vulnerable. The situations are heightened by the intensity of the heat that summer. I thought it was a funny and engaging story. The characters and the events kept me absorbed, and the author brought everything together at the end for a what I thought was a satisfying conclusion.
( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
(7.5)I picked this up for another quick read before the end of the month. It is a lighter genre, another Irish yarn, but nonetheless enjoyable. ( )
  HelenBaker | Aug 29, 2015 |
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For S and I and J

and B, of course
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The heat, the heat.
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When a recently retired family patriarch clears out his bank account and disappears during a sweltering summer in 1976, his three children converge on their mother's home for the first time in years and track clues to an ancestral village in Ireland, where they uncover illuminating family secrets.… (more)

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