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Instructions for a Heatwave (Vintage Contemporaries)by Maggie O'Farrell
Synopses & Reviews
Sophisticated, intelligent, impossible to put down, Maggie O’Farrell’s beguiling novels — After You’d Gone, winner of a Betty Trask Award; The Distance Between Us, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Hand That First Held Mine, winner of the Costa Novel Award; and her unforgettable bestseller The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox — blend richly textured psychological drama with page-turning suspense. Instructions for a Heatwave finds her at the top of her game, with a novel about a family crisis set during the legendary British heatwave of 1976.
Gretta Riordan wakes on a stultifying July morning to find that her husband of forty years has gone to get the paper and vanished, cleaning out his bank account along the way. Gretta’s three grown children converge on their parents’ home for the first time in years: Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, with two stepdaughters who despise her and a blighted past that has driven away the younger sister she once adored; and Aoife, the youngest, now living in Manhattan, a smart, immensely resourceful young woman who has arranged her entire life to conceal a devastating secret.
Maggie O’Farrell writes with exceptional grace and sensitivity about marriage, about the mysteries that inhere within families, and the fault lines over which we build our lives — the secrets we hide from the people who know and love us best. In a novel that stretches from the heart of London to New York City’s Upper West Side to a remote village on the coast of Ireland, O’Farrell paints a bracing portrait of a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life-changing truths about who they really are.
“Smart and provocative....O’Farrell has made her mark by combining the elements of good old-fashioned drama with a modern lightness of touch in language and a deft freedom in moving her narratives forward through juxtaposition rather than linear plotting....Over and over, she tries to work out who people really are, how ordinary lives can conceal extraordinary stories.” The New York Times Book Review
“Searing....Astonishing....Perhaps a perfect book....Full of unforgettable players....Instructions for a Heatwave is never dull, never unconvincing, proceeding at a stately and crisp speed through a fully rendered world, grappling at all times and in an original way with the fascinating problems of our time, rushing head-long—and yet staggering almost drunkenly when necessary — towards a stirring and wondrous conclusion.” Los Angeles Review of Books
“Maggie O’Farrell has written my favorite kind of novel: big-hearted, psychologically complex, and utterly gripping from page one. Her spare and subtle prose yields a narrative of extraordinary power. Instructions for a Heatwave is a quiet masterpiece, one I’ll be recommending for years to come.” Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette
“Instructions for a Heatwave is a thoroughly engrossing and suspenseful novel about an Irish family and its disparate members coming together one unbearably hot summer. Their mission is to find a father who has wandered off. Their unspoken mission is to rediscover and forgive each other for a lifetime of slights and betrayals, real and imagined. O’Farrell, in this beautifully-written tale, gets the psychological nuances just right.” Anita Shreve
“A rich, barbed interplay among siblings, who gibe, snap, and snipe as they go through their father's things, slowly teasing out one another's long-buried secrets — and a few of Gretta’s and Robert’s, too.” Entertainment Weekly
“A beautiful book....Spellbinding.” NPR
“O’Farrell has done it again....There is a deliciousness to this novel, a warmth and readability that render it unputdownable and will surely make it a hit.” The Guardian (London)
London, 1976. In the thick of a record-breaking heatwave, Gretta Riordan’s newly-retired husband has cleaned out his bank account and vanished. Now, for the first time in years, Gretta calls her children home : Michael Francis, a history teacher whose marriage is failing; Monica, whose blighted past that has driven a wedge between her and her younger sister; and Aoife, the youngest, whose new life in Manhattan is elaborately arranged to conceal a devastating secret.
In a story that stretches from the Upper West Side to a village on the coast of Ireland, Maggie O’Farrell explores the mysteries that inhere within families, and reveals the fault lines over which we build our lives. Instructions for a Heatwave weaves an unforgettable narrative of a family falling apart and coming together with hard-won, life-changing truths about who they really are.
About the Author
Maggie O’Farrell is the author of After You’d Gone, winner of a Betty Trask Award; My Lover’s Lover; The Distance Between Us, winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox; The Hand That First Held Mine, winner of a Costa Novel Award; and Instructions for a Heatwave, shortlisted for the Costa Award.
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