Book Review: Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell

What’s it about?

It’s July 1976. In London, it hasn’t rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he’s going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn’t come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta’s children – two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce – back home, each with different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.




My thoughts

I’m aware that Maggie O’Farrell is a very respected writer and having read only one other of her novels, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, I selected this book having had it on my TBR for over 3 years.  Having loved Esme Lennox I assumed I would this novel too.

When are a family are brought together in the heatwave summer of 1976, tensions rise and secrets eventually out.  I can’t say that I really empathised with any of the characters, none of them being truly happy.  Aoife was my favourite character, I liked her persistence to live her life the way she saw fit even though it went totally against her mother and family’s perceived thoughts of what she should be doing.  She was just the most interesting and had more going on.

It’s a strange one really because it wasn’t boring, but it didn’t grip me either.  The plot was too slow for me, and so just ended up being a  drawn out family saga/drama with an unsatisfactory ending which just made me think, why bother?  The main thread of the story just left hanging.

I gave the book 3* which, for me was on the slightly generous side, as I do appreciate how well the book was written and for those that enjoy more character led books, this will appeal to you, however for me, Esme Lennox all the way!  And do you know what else…there are no instructions! 😉

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Author links: Facebook | Website

Small print for info
Source: Prize
No of pages: 324
Publisher: Tinder Press


  1. 24th July 2018 / 8:57 am

    This book didn’t grip me as much as I wanted it to either.

    • Lindsay | Bookboodle
      27th July 2018 / 7:14 pm

      It had the potential but just didn’t live up to it!

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