- Title: Instructions For a Heatwave
- Author: Maggie O’Farrell
- Genre: Fiction
- Published: June 2013 – Knopf
- Source: Publisher
My take: It’s the summer of 1976 and London is experiencing a heatwave that seems never-ending. One morning Gretta and Robert Riordan have a bit of breakfast and then Robert heads out as usual to buy the morning newspaper. He doesn’t come back.
The three grown Riordan children soon gather at the family home to try to figure out what’s happened to their father and to try to calm their mother. The three all have issues – in their own lives and with each other. Michael Francis, the eldest, is a history teacher in a local school. It’s not the job he’d dreamed of but it’s how things worked out for him. The school year is over and he has six weeks off to enjoy his children and try to figure out if his wife will ever speak to him again.
Monica is in her second marriage and trying to make this one work. Her step-daughters don’t like her and her husband seems inclined to take their side in any situation. She’s not a happy woman. Now that her sister is back home she’s finding it impossible to contain her anger over a past betrayal.
Aoife, the youngest Riordan, has lived in New York for several years. She’s found a job she loves, a man she might love, and continues to hide a secret that no one knows – not even her family. It takes courage to go home again but she does.
If you have siblings there’s a lot to relate to in this novel. It was interesting to see them fall into the same patterns as when they were young and then snap out of it when they seemed to realize they didn’t have to continue that way. Coming from a large family I could relate to that and found humor in a few scenes.
Gretta and her children search for clues to find Robert. Eventually the search takes them to the west of Ireland. Along the way long-held secrets are revealed giving all a chance to forgive and move forward. I enjoyed Instructions For a Heatwave. It’s a family drama filled with secrets, lies, misunderstandings, forgiveness, real life.