Sunday, August 04, 2013

Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O'Farrell

I love it when my reading prescience is spot on!  Instructions for a Heatwave showed up in the New York Times Book Review as I was reading it.  Gretta Riordan's husband, Robert, has walked off - gone missing - in the midst of the English drought and heatwave of 1976.  In the opening section of the novel she calls each of her three children home - two from England and one from New York City - to help her deal with the disappearance.  The novel is a character study of sibling rivalry and buried secrets.  I thoroughly enjoyed O'Farrell's storytelling.  That the novel ends in Ireland with the family sitting down to eat freshly baked soda bread makes it even more appealing to me.  Back when I was teaching AP English, we used to talk about novels with central characters who appeared only briefly or not at all.  Robert Riordan is one such character who appears (spoiler) just when I expected him to - on the last page.

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