Instructions for a Heatwave

Irish writer Maggie O’Farrell’s is one of the U.K.’s most popular writers. Instructions for a Heatwave is the first of her 6 books to hit the shores of North America. It’s July 1976, hot as Hades in London, with no rain for the past few months. The weather actually sets the background mood of the story, with family members eventually becoming hot under the collar by more than the weather. Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta, that he’s off to the corner shop to pick up a paper, as per his usual morning routine. But this time he doesn’t return. Gretta is a bit peculiar to say the least – you’ll see what I mean. Panic stricken, daughters, Monica and Aoife, and son, Michael Francis, head home to London to help try and locate their father. Of course past and present family troubles tag along with them and the complications of the family unit surface time and again while they try to uncover just where Dad could have possible gone. O’Farell is a wonderful writer, her prose poetic at times, and she’s done a fine job of conveying the total Irish feel to this story – and why wouldn’t she, she’s Irish. Gretta is enough to drive anyone far afield… no wonder daughter Aoife chooses to live in New York City. Speaking of Aoife, I found it really exasperating to be confronted with a name like this and not have any clue how to pronounce it. It may be common to the Irish but to the rest of us it’s a real tongue twister. Eventually – page 246… “Michael Francis says “Ee-fah“. Remember this, I struggled for ages with her name. I really liked this book. It’s a definite yes.

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