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509 Reviews
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92 of 109 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Strange Weather Brings Out Strange Behaviour'
Maggie O'Farrell's eagerly anticipated latest novel 'Instructions for a Heatwave' is a very readable and entertaining story that pulls the reader in from the very first pages. Set in London, during the heatwave of 1976, we meet Gretta Riordan, a Catholic Irish woman, mother to three grown-up children, and her husband, Robert, a retired bank employee. As yet another hot...
Published 16 months ago by Susie B

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, but disappointing story
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...
Published 8 months ago by pomegranate


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing, but disappointing story, 4 Nov 2013
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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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not great, 28 Jun 2013
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing read, 13 Sep 2013
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Though the family relationships were well detailed, I found the story somewhat tedious and never really engaged with any of the characters.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A dissappointment, 3 Oct 2013
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Was expecting much more, could have told this story in half the pages. As it got closer to the end I became interested in what was going to happen......but them it ended!?!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars No, 31 Jan 2014
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I couldn't finish reading this, got bored halfway through. NOT what I expected, I found it dull & very uninteresting. Could have been so much better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Just didn't get it, the heatwave seemed irrelevant and the family tedious, 1 Nov 2013
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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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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 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Bemused, 17 Oct 2013
By 
M. Brown (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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. Followed by some black and white photos of Omey Island. Why? Surely the story should be able to stand on its own legs, without props of this kind, from a writer of O'Farrell's calibre? This only confirms to me that she was uneasy about this latest novel - that it required some qualification.

Having said all of that, I must concede that the writing itself had all the O'Farrell hallmarks, her wonderful acuity for evoking language imbued with images and shadows. This earns three stars from me but, sadly, wasn't enough to lift the story out of the doldrums.
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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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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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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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