Review 1492: Instructions for a Heatwave

I’m really liking Maggie O’Farrell. I don’t know why it took me so long to try her.

In 1976 London, the country is experiencing a record-breaking heatwave. (Of course, those of us who have lived in Texas don’t think 90° F is that hot.) One morning, Gretta Riordan’s newly retired husband doesn’t return from his trip to the store. When her grown children go to the police, they find out he’s taken money from the bank account and say he is not, therefore, a missing person.

This event brings the rest of the family together for the first time in three years, which was when Aoife, the youngest sibling, left for New York after her sister, Monica, broke with her. Aoife still doesn’t understand the reason for the break.

Monica herself is not happy. After her first marriage, to Joe, broke up, she married Peter. Peter has two daughters who hate her. She hates the old house in Gloucester where she lives, in which Peter will allow her to change nothing.

Michael Francis loves his wife and children but feels his wife is becoming distant. It takes a while to find out why.

All, even Gretta, have secrets, which must come out before relationships can be healed.

O’Farrell writes luminous prose and understands the complexities of people. This is a lovely book.

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19 thoughts on “Review 1492: Instructions for a Heatwave

  1. Davida Chazan April 8, 2020 / 12:57 am

    O’Farrell is one of my favorite authors. I just finished reading her new novel, Hamnet and … whoa! Esme Lennox used to be my favorite of hers, but this one surpassed it BIG time!

    • whatmeread April 8, 2020 / 10:30 am

      That’s something to look forward to, because I haven’t reviewed Esme yet, but I really liked it. My copy of Hamnet hasn’t arrived yet.

      • Davida Chazan April 9, 2020 / 2:35 am

        I got approved for the ARC of Hamnet after I’d ordered a print copy, so… I’ve got it BOTH ways!

    • whatmeread April 24, 2020 / 11:45 am

      Davida, on a totally different topic, I tried to find your email address on your blog to tell you that I got your request to join the Classics Club Goodreads group. Unfortunately, we don’t admit people unless they provide the list to their Classics Club list, and your request didn’t have one. So, please, after you post your Classics Club list, just make another request. And for some reason, I’ve stopped getting emails when those requests come in, so I apologize for the delay.

      • Davida Chazan April 24, 2020 / 1:10 pm

        Got it. No problem. Thanks!

      • whatmeread April 24, 2020 / 1:13 pm

        Actually, I’m being silly, because I know you review books, so just go ahead and resubmit it, and I’ll approve it. I think I was told to do this to avoid spammers joining our club.

      • Davida Chazan April 24, 2020 / 1:19 pm

        Aw… now I can’t find it. Can you send me a link?

  2. Cathy746books April 9, 2020 / 6:54 am

    I just finished Hamnet, and enjoyed it, but not as much as some of her others. Esme Lennox is astounding.

  3. Jane April 10, 2020 / 9:47 am

    The Hand That First Held Mine is my favourite I think, I haven’t read this one yet or Hamnet (feel very lucky!) An English heatwave is slightly different!

    • whatmeread April 10, 2020 / 10:58 am

      Oh, I haven’t read that one, either. Much to look forward to! I guess your heatwave is, more like one here in the Pacific Northwest, where I live now. For one thing, you probably don’t have air conditioning all over the place.

      • Jane April 17, 2020 / 10:03 am

        We don’t and our houses etc are all built to keep us warm!

      • whatmeread April 17, 2020 / 10:38 am

        Yes, it was like that when I lived in Michigan, too. Only windows for ventilation in all but the newer homes and office buildings.

    • whatmeread April 10, 2020 / 12:37 pm

      I am disappointed to get a message from Amazon that my order of Hamnet has been cancelled for lack of availability. I think that must be the U.K. paperback. I now have on order the U.S. hardcover, but it doesn’t come out until July. Poor me!

  4. Naomi April 19, 2020 / 12:55 pm

    I have loved both books I’ve read by her, and know I have some more to look forward to!

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