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Instructions for a Heatwave Hardcover – 28 Feb 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tinder Press (28 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755358783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755358786
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.2 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (566 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 131,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of five novels, After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and The Hand That First Held Mine. Born in Northern Ireland, Maggie grew up in Wales and Scotland. She lives in London with her husband and two children.

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Review

'Here is an author whose depth and insight hover just below the surface of an apparently effortless lightness...There is a deliciousness to this novel, a warmth and readability that render it unputdownable and will surely make it a hit. She's done it again' Joanne Briscoe, Guardian



'Consolidates her reputation as a writer who depicts relationships with piercing acuity in haunting, intense prose. O'Farrell is a deliciously insightful writer, observing the dynamics of relationships and astutely filleting them to the bone. Her sharp but humane eye dissects every form of human interaction' Independent on Sunday



'Instructions For A Heatwave, evocative, articulate and joyously readable, does not disappoint. An author at the top of her game.' Sunday Express



'O'Farrell is a great storyteller... All of the Riordans will stay in your mind long after you finish this book. They re funny, infuriating and impossible not to love. They feel like family' The Irish Times



'This is a surprising, beautiful novel, full of the intricacies of family life.... you'll find yourself wanting to devour it in one sitting' --The Sun's Fabulous Magazine

Book Description

Maggie O'Farrell has now sold over a million books in the UK through Bookscan. She is consistently a hardback bestseller - THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE sold just over 15,000 copies in hardback alone.


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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By G M Holland on 1 Nov 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having loved After You'd Gone and really enjoying subsequent novels from Maggie O'Farrell, I was looking forward to this read and was happy to recommend it to the book group as a likely entertaining experience.
I found it impossible to warm to. The heatwave backdrop of the title appeared to add nothing to the plot. The family was tiresome and I felt the whole thing was contrived and slow. I felt I completed reading the book just to get to the end to see if anything interesting actually happened. The characters' names kept leaping out and annoying me before I actually got to them, almost as if I was dreading what they might do or say next. The story of the missing father was unsatisfying and I simply couldn't understand how the reading problem could be missed by everyone who had come into Aiofe's life. I felt little empathy for anyone except Aiofe and overall, for me, the whole story just did not add up to anything. It was a bit like looking forward to a dinner out with good old friends and finding the company boring and the food indifferent. I was hoping for lyrical prose and stunning metaphors, but when such expressions arose they felt clumsy and inappropriate; perhaps it was all there but impossible to focus on due to my growing disinterest as I progressed through the book. Sorry to report that this novel just did not work for me.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This novel is set during the heatwave of 1976, which I remember very well. Oddly enough, I read the book during recent hot weather, and it made the heat feel even more tangible. The novel centres around the Riordan family. Gretta is the matriarch and, whatever the weather, she bakes soda bread three times a week. Her day starts as normal - she bakes and husband Robert leaves at his usual time to buy a newspapr. He doesn't return...

Robert's disappearance leads to Gretta's grown children rallying round to help. There are Michael and Monica, who are both experiencing marital problems, and youngest daughter Aiofe who lives in New York. This is a novel about family and the secrets, allegiances and relationships which are shared between the different members. Maggie O'Farrell presents a realistic portrayal of a large, Irish Catholic family and a wonderfully evocative portrayal of that never ending summer. I have never read anything by O'Farrell before, but I am sure I will devour her backlist, after this stunning book. As well as being an enjoyable personal read, it would have much to offer reading groups, with lots to discuss, and I enjoyed it immensely.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. Brown on 17 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a rule, Maggie O'Farrell equals quality in my lexicon: I have devoured all of her novels and waited eagerly for the next. Very few contemporary authors have her command of language, in my opinion - she writes lucidly, often poetically, weaving stories of depth and subtlety with unforgettable characters. But, when I finished reading 'Instructions for a Heatwave', I was left scratching my head and asking 'what was that all about?' I've pondered on it for a couple of days now and am none the wiser.

The references to the 1976 heatwave were in no way integral to the development of the story; in fact, as many other reviewers have said, one could assume the events were unfolding in present day - in the unusually warm summer we've just had - rather than the extreme conditions of 1976. I remember that summer well. So the title was a nonsense.

The plot was thin and loosely held together by characters who were, for the most part, unsympathetic and unlikeable. Of course, it's not necessary to people a story with likeable characters but they certainly have to be believable and none of these were. I found I wasn't terribly interested to discover why most of them weren't speaking to each other at different times - none of the dynamics were explored in depth or with any conviction. In the end, I just hoped they wouldn't find Robert, the father who upped and left with no explanation, for his sake, poor beggar. Very little in the way of satisfactory explication so far as the main thrust of the plot is concerned - the husband/father who walks out without a word to anyone. Odd.

And then, when the novels finishes, an explanation from the author herself about why she wrote the novel. "I didn't intend to write this book. It happened by accident." You don't say.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By pomegranate on 4 Nov 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm a bit divided in my feelings about this novel, as O'Farrell's writing is evocative and enchanting (even though several 'him' and 'her' where it should read 'he' and 'she' were a bit distracting). Her character development is excellent and the intricacies of the relationships are detailed and believable. Sadly, the story itself is lacking. Halfway through the novel I found myself wondering if anything was going to happen, and by the end I realised that it hadn't.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By BimChim on 28 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book landed on my desk when a colleague, who is a great fan of the author, suggested I read it. At first I found it hard to get used to the style of writing, but im glad I persevered as the book was interesting, and some of the characters were very descriptive and well developed. However, I found the plot to be quite plodding, and although I read it pretty quickly, I wasn't left amazed or satisfied with the ending, which was a bit of an 'oh, ok then' moment. The heatwave, as other reviewers have said, does seem like a bit of an afterthough and doesn't tie in with anything thats happening, but it does set the scene, and you can imagine people sweating through London heatwaves in the 70s from the description. I'm reading Esme Lennox (same author) now, and I'm hoping this one will do a bit more for me!
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