Reader reviews and comments on Instructions for a Heatwave, plus links to write your own review.

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Instructions for a Heatwave

By Maggie O'Farrell

Instructions for a Heatwave
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2013,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: 6 May 2014,
    304 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Reviews

Page 1 of 1
There are currently 2 reader reviews for Instructions for a Heatwave
Order Reviews by:

Write your own review!

Cloggie Downunder (12/04/13)

A brilliant read
Instructions For A Heatwave is the sixth novel by British author, Maggie O’Farrell. On a July Thursday at the height of Britain’s 1976 heatwave, Robert Riordan goes out as usual for the morning paper but doesn’t return. When no trace of him can be found, his wife, Gretta calls her daughter in Gloucester, Monica, who is having a drama of her own. Eventually, Gretta’s son, Michael Francis manages to contact his younger sister, Aoife in New York, and the siblings come together at their family home to decide what is to be done. It is a gathering filled with tensions, as Aoife and Monica have been estranged for years. Not only that, but undercurrents flow as each character is dealing with shameful secrets of their own. While this could make for heavy going, the dialogue between the characters, the family dynamics and some moments of delicious irony provide a comic relief that lifts the story. As O’Farrell skilfully builds her story, the various mysteries, some from more than thirty years ago, unfold over four days. Abortion, dyslexia, divorce, betrayal, adultery, draft dodging, a dead cat, an Irish convent and a deep abiding love all feature. O’Farrell’s characters are interesting and complex; they are larger than life and so very real. Her prose is a joy to experience: the feel of the heatwave is expertly conveyed and the descriptions are wonderfully evocative. “And then, it seemed to Monica, the baby opened her mouth and started to scream and that she did not stop screaming for a long time. ……She screamed if laid flat, even for a moment…….her legs would work up and down, as if she was a toy with a winding mechanism, her face would crumple in on itself and the room would fill with jagged sounds that could have cut you, if you’d stood too close.” and “She cannot read. She cannot do that thing that other people find so artlessly easy: to see arrangements of inked shapes on a page and alchemise them into meaning.” are just two examples. A brilliant read.
Jan Zahrly (08/08/13)

Instructions for a Heatwave
Every time I get to the end of a Maggie O'Farrell novel, I want to scream, “More. What happened next?” O'Farrell always leaves me hanging and Instructions for a Heatwave was no exception. This is a family book, about adult children's frustrations, about efforts to be the “best child” of the three, about running away, about marriage or non-marriage. The adult children's problems are the true basis of this story, not about their run-away father. And it ends up about their relationships with the mother.

Only near the end of the book do we start to learn of the giant hypocrisy of the mother. There is envy, pity, frustration and anger, too. The father disappears – no note, no information for the mother. He just does not come back from getting the newspaper. The three children start gathering near the mother, when they can pull away from their own family/relationship dilemmas. The two sisters are not speaking to each other and have been this way for three years. Wow, how can you hang on to conflict and misunderstanding with your own sister for three years?

When one of the sisters discovers that daddy-dearest has been sending a steady stream of money, every month, to “Assumpta,” things really start to fall apart. These adult children start figuring out what has been happening or not happening with their parents and with each other. The book starts in London in the middle of a heat wave with water rationing and ends in Ireland where the parents were born. And it ends in hope. I can not write anymore because it would spoil your reading.
  • Page
  • 1

Beyond the Book:
  The Heatwave of 1976

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Goldfinch
    The Goldfinch
    by Donna Tartt
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer for Fiction.

    Her canvas is vast. To frame a story about art, love and ...
  • Book Jacket: Toms River
    Toms River
    by Dan Fagin
    Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction

    In Toms River, investigative journalist Dan Fagin ...
  • Book Jacket: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
    by Gabrielle Zevin
    I feel like Gabrielle Zevin wrote this wonderful book, about a lonely New England bookstore owner ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry
by Gabrielle Zevin

Published Apr. 2014

Join the discussion!

Who Said...

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some to be chewed on and digested.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

P Your O C

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.