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Book Review: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

This is an elegant novel from a prize-winning author that captivates from the opening page. Set in 1976 during a heatwave in London it’s about a family in crisis. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he is going to the store to buy a newspaper – but he never returns. Gretta’s grown-up children return to the family home to help their mother at this difficult time, but they have problems of their own. Michael is on the brink of divorce. Monica still mourns divorcing her first husband, and although she has remarried, she finds being a stepmother more arduous then she would have thought. And Aoife, the youngest, the one that fled to New York, the one that has always felt picked on by her family, hides a life-long secret that could mean losing her job and her new boyfriend. But their mother has secrets that trump them all – an explanation of why their father is missing that could tear apart the very fabric of their family.

This is a beautifully-written novel with characters that are complex and engaging in their ragged humanity. Storytelling doesn’t get any better than this. Maggie O’Farrell is a masterful novelist. Superb.

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