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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instructions for a Heatwave
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...
Published 19 months ago by S Riaz

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bemused
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...
Published 16 months ago by M. Brown


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars it doesn't want me to keep turning the page, 1 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Instructions for a Heatwave (Kindle Edition)
This is a book-club book for me and I'm struggling to get through it. There are some very good areas of nostalgia but on the whole it doesn't have me wanting to turn page after page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Instructions for a heatwave., 12 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Instructions for a Heatwave (Kindle Edition)
I hated the way this book ended. I also found the text frustrating and wished the author would get to the point. Some of the characters were good though and her description s of Ireland and the ferry were nice.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very irish, 7 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Instructions for a Heatwave (Kindle Edition)
Well written but I think the story was weak. I wouldn't recommend this with much enthusiasm as there are many more beefy stories out there to read
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok, 28 Sept. 2013
There's probably lots of analogies to be drawn between the heatwave and the heated uncomfortable lives this Irish born family find themselves in but it was lost on me! Nicely written with a few good twists and turns but not one of those books you keep returning to because you can't put it down!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as some of her other books, 19 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: Instructions for a Heatwave (Kindle Edition)
I always look forward to the release of a new Maggi O'Farrell book but this time I just did not find any of the characters particularly endearing and felt the story was a bit lacking. Not as good as some of her others.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I Didn't Connect At All, 25 Aug. 2014
Set in the heatwave of 1976, Robert leaves the house in the morning to buy a newspaper and never returns. Mum, Gretta, rings the children and they all rally round to find him.

In reality this is a story about family secrets. Everyone has secrets that they aren't sharing which all has an impact on their relationships with each other. They all resent each other for small things and some really quite massive things - Monica resents Aoife for being born and changing her mother from this lively, fun creature to a mere shadow. Aoife spends her whole life hidding her massive secret from everyone (though frankly why nobody noticed is beyond me, this was 1976 not 1876!) which causes all sorts of misunderstandings and problems. Robert is having marriage problems and Monica hates her step-daughters, the feeling is mutual. Gretta and Robert have the biggest secrets which threaten to blow the family apart.

The background of the heatwave is quite superfluous. The events in this book could have happened at any point and the heat and water rationing appear almost as an afterthought in the story. This could have been written at any time in the 1970s - hot or otherwise.

The characters in this book aren't particularly pleasant which made them difficult to relate to. They spend their time hiding secrets instead of facing up to them resulting in difficult relationships and not nice characters. There are a lot of snide comments, particularly from Gretta and Monica which did start to get quite wearing after a while.

The disappearance of Robert was all slightly odd. He just disappeared without a word leaving his family quite worried (though maybe not as frantic as you would imagine).I just could not imagine (even after it was explained) why he had done this. I just hadn't got involved enough with the characters and the story to feel any sense that this was an understandable thing to do.

My overall feeling was that I didn't particularly like this book and failed to connect with either the story or the characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Evocative and oppressive, 26 Dec. 2013
By 
Janie U (Kings Cliffe, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Everyone reading this book will be enthralled by the descriptions of the 1976 heatwave and, in particular, it's effects of the characters in this story. Setting the tale at this time allows the author to use the heat to create an oppressive feel, making everything seem slow and deliberate. The heatwave is key throughout and seems to influence every action and thought.
Seeing the family from the perspective of the various family members creates a realistic profile. They are all very different and well drawn characters.
Cleverly the past is brought in using flashbacks and, gradually, the family's suppressed secrets and conflicts are revealed to the reader.
Period detail is used very subtly showing an admirable level of restraint from the author. It would have been very easy to overdo the clothes, food and other 1970s cultural references but the detail is much more intelligent than that.
The pace of the plot is consistently steady. There seems to be tension in every relationship which allows them all to establish themselves into the story but does tend to distract from the main story (where has he gone?) and trying to wrap up all the problems at the end seemed an impossible task!
Coincidently I've just seen "Philomena", the film about.an Irish catholic woman trying to trace her son who was sold by the catholic nuns - this and the story in this book made me think about the dreadful guilt, suppression and blind devotion encouraged by the Catholic Church, all very sad.
In summary, fabulous elements but the plot had a bit too much in it!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best work, 26 Oct. 2014
I adore Maggie O'Farrell's writing style and have enjoyed her previous novels so I was really looking forward to savouring this book, but this was disappointing.
The big family secret was distinctly underwhelming, I guess you have to remind yourself that in that era, that sort of thing mattered. But there was a few bits where the setting felt timeless, which I don't think added anything. Perhaps this was a deliberate tactic that just didn't quite make the intended impact.
The ending was so abrupt I was really surprised. (also because there are several pages at the back with photos and a Q&A which padded it out, I thought I had a few chapters left when it just ended!)
Of course it is fine to have loose ends and implied outcomes without resolution but it would have been good to hear some dialogue or explanation from the missing father.
None of the characters were that likeable, which is okay, but it did make it a bit difficult to care about their stories at times. The relationship between the brother and younger sister was endearing and the little girls antics were very much needed to add some joy and light to the various interactions.
She does paint a good picture of an Irish matriarch and the complex dynamics within families and I do love books based around families, especially Irish ones.
But the whole thing is sluggish, hazy, perhaps the author was the one most affected by the heat!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good tale well told, 30 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Instructions for a Heatwave (Kindle Edition)
This book was a good read. It was an intriguing story which unraveled slowly and so held my interest. I liked the characters and found it a lovely book to read over the holidays.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimate portrait of a family in crisis, 11 Mar. 2013
I won't describe the plot line as other reviewers have done so very successfully.
I love Maggie O Farrell's books especially "The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox" and
"The Hand that First Held Mine" so I was eagerly anticipating reading this new one.
Gripping from page one; she draws you in to the feelings and intricacies of each
character so that you know exactly what makes them tick and perhaps more importantly
you care what happens to them.
Maggie O'Farrell makes you feel that this is a real family and by the time you finish
reading you know them as well as you know close friends. She describes everything
beautifully, every word is like a carefully selected brush stroke in a painting.
Hugely enjoyable, loved it, sad to have finished it! Will definitely re read it.
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Instructions for a Heatwave
Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell
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