Instructions for a Heatwave, by Maggie O'Farrell

Set in the summer of 1976, this is the story of a family who comes together when the Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going to the shops, but doesn't come back.

I listened to this on audiobook and it was read by a woman with an Irish accent. I don't think it was simply that, but I couldn't stop thinking of this book as a Maeve Binchy novel: the structure of the book could well be one of her books I think. The narrative switches focus between Gretta and her three grown-up children (and their spouses) who all have lives and problems of their own, but are brought together to face each other and the problem of the missing Robert.

I didn't note them down, but there were some nice descriptions that are typically O'Farrell - one I remember was flies hitting the glass with a ticking sound as if they'd were being magnetically attracted.

Given the title, I thought perhaps more would have been made of the heat. There are references dotted through the book to the oppressive heatwave, but the feeling of drought and sunshine didn't really pervade the overall book as much as I'd expected - quite often I'd forgotten about it until one of the characters complained about it.

It was a nice read but it didn't really tick all the boxes for me so it was a bit disappointing (based on my relatively high expectations of O'Farrell).

Completed : 27-Aug-2013 (audiobook)

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