INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE by Maggie O’Farrell is full of charismatic characters dealing with everyday problems and family angst.
Maggie O’Farrell is the award-winning author of THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX. I know plenty of you read this one for your book clubs.
Summer, 1976, and we’re in London as it suffers through an excruciating heatwave. Poor Gretta Riordan learns that her husband has cleaned out his bank account and disappeared. Robert is recently retired and Gretta is no spring chicken. They have three grown children, living as far away as NYC, and as close as down the street. Now they all three are finding themselves being summoned back home to help track dad down.
I was able to get right into this smart story about family secrets and the quest to for Robert’s whereabouts. O’Farrell writes with a lyrical quality that springs off the page keeping you wanting more and more.
Gretta and Robert’s three grown children have issues of their own. Their son Michael Francis teaches history and is dealing with a failing marriage. Then there is Monica who has never had children of her own; and is now married to a man with two children. What secret is she harboring? And Aoife, the youngest daughter is now living in NYC. She’s been handed a bad wrap since childhood. No withstanding the name that no one can pronounce, she has other more troublesome problems: she is illiterate.
Okay, now I’ve got your attention. Starting in London, this unique novel ends in Ireland on Omey Island. What happened between Gretta and Robert in Ireland all those years ago plays a huge part in the mystery. Gretta is the keeper of a larger-than-life secret that threatens the stability of all their lives. And Aoife has plenty of secrets. There is all sorts of angst among family members. And O’Farrell draws you into this plot like a spider draws its prey into its web. You will be entranced, unable to put the book down.
Endings can, quiet often, be problematic. Not here. O’Farrell has done a bang-up job tying everything up. I’m so glad I decided to fit this amazing book into my already full reading schedule. Thanks go out to Danielle Plafsky at Alfred A. Knopf for sending the lovely galley!