The Unlikely Bookworm

Review: Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell


Instructions for a Heatwave

Despite having had my nose in a book for the best part of the past two decades, until recently I had not yet read anything by Maggie O’Farrell. Prior to beginning Instructions for a Heatwave, I had just finished Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and while I had promised myself to alternate reading current publications with novels from the BBC’s Big Read, I somewhat digressed from the list.

Having never read Maggie O’Farrell before, I had few expectations of her latest novel, Instructions for a Heatwave. Set against the balmy backdrop of a heatwave in London, the year is 1976 and the Riordan’s are experiencing a family crisis. Retired Robert, husband to Gretta and father of Michael Francis, Monica and Aoife – all of whom are struggling with their own, personal dilemmas – goes to the cornershop one morning to buy a newspaper and doesn’t come back.

His disappearance brings his estranged children and wife back together – Michael Francis, who’s on the brink of divorce, twice married Monica and wild child Aoife, who lives in New York and hasn’t been home for three years. While not a harmonious reunion, it gives each of the characters a chance to delve deeper into the trials their personal lives are currently in the throes of.

The characters are expertly crafted, the is plot captivating and the writing is both skilled and subtle. Instructions for a Heatwave is the perfect family saga and a wonderful tale of flaws and forgiveness.

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  • lucy Welcome! I’m Lucy, a long-standing bookworm with a passion for literature and all things bookish. As a former Londoner and current Sydney-sider, this blog will offer you a window into the life of an expat, along with weekly book reviews, travel features and blogging tips, all written lovingly from my bedroom in Bondi. Read More

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