151. Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farell

I am a serial reader. If an author catches my fancy or hits my sweet spot, I definitely pick up their other novels.

Maggie O’Farell came on my radar when I first read The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox and my, oh my, was I hooked.

Then I read This Must be the Place and I fell head over heels in love with her writing style and unique stories.

You can say it is no wonder that when I saw Instructions for a Heatwave lying in the bookshelf, I saw her name and picked it up without reading the summary.

That is the level of trust I aspire to attract in my real life as well. Hahaha.

Now is the appropriate time to mention that the reason why I always am hooked to Maggie O’Farell’s writing is how she weaves an impossibly tangled web of family relationships and dynamics, and their affects on everyone’s live.

To put it simple: family drama is her forte! She just knows how to develop the characters as the story progresses and how the minute details add so much depth.

Particularly, with Instructions for a Heatwave I was chuckling half the time and getting deep in thought when the past of different characters were being revealed.

The story is about an Irish family in London during the 1976 heatwave which was quite an event in British history.

Here I should mention that if you’re a fan of the Derry girls or know about “the Troubles” between Ireland and the UK, you’d pick right up the nuances and jabs thrown here and there.

So the story, sorry for keep on going off track. But the story, you guys is hilarious and endearing about a normal Irish family called the Riordans.

The Riordans have 3 kids. Two of them are married namely; Michael and Monica, while their youngest Aoife (pronounced as Eefah, yes that is the actual pronunciation) is living in New York cut off from her family, with her boyfriend.

Now, one particular dry hot day, the father goes out to buy his newspaper and disappears. When the mother realises that he actually is gone, she calls her children home to help find his whereabouts.

Here is the moment where all hell breaks loose, and the hidden reality of everyone’s life is revealed, along with the mysteries each relationship holds.

The story moves from London to New York to a small village in Ireland, where the plot reaches its climax and the story ends leaving us with a yearning to know more, and what happens to them all.

Especially whether or not the father returns? Does Aoife and her sister patch things up? Can Micheal’s marriage be saved? and whether or not mom and dad are actually married!

I loved the character of Aiofe, I loved her free spirit and never ending curiosity. I chuckled a lot on the Irish norms and how the family tested each other’s limits.

If you’re going to read this book, please watch Derry Girls before hands. The little things in the book will make so much sense and add depth to the story.

One thing is for sure, Maggie O’Farell has my heart, and with her stories of family drama and dysfunction, and mystery and secrets, I’ll be reading more of her work for sure.

Onto the basics:

  1. Rating: 4.5/5.0
  2. Favorite quote: “Odd that your life can contain such significant tripwires to your future and, even while you wander through them, you have no idea.”
  3. Reader level: easy to follow.
  4. Should you read: Definitely.
  5. Would I read it again: Yes, this is a great summer read. I might just pick it up again.



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