Thoughts on ‘Instructions for a Heatwave’

Maggie O’Farrell is definitely one of my favourite authors, so when I saw this book, I thought it was well worth a read!! And boy was I right! I loved it! Her style of writing is just so readable, and it never feels like a chore – in fact, I’m always gutted when her books end!

I loved the family dynamic in this book, it’s not all singing and dancing happy families, this is a family who all have secrets and things they hide from each other. It’s a character who barely appears in the book who has the biggest secret though and one that is uncovered as the book unfolds. I love her ability to drop in little nuggets of information on the characters which just build and build until you have the whole picture. Jumping backwards and forwards in time, but never in a confusing way.

The middle child, but oldest sister, Monica is a very controlled character who does not reveal much and tries to be in control all the time. I loved the description given when it was explained she did not want children:

‘Monica was seized with a horrified fascination at the devastation childbearing wreaked. The slack pleating of stomach flesh, the slivered scars that found their way over dimpled legs, the deflated sacs of breasts.’

It’s just a brilliant description of what happens, and far from being bothered by this, it had me laughing out loud – yes, yes, how true! Monica is an interesting character who seems to take life incredibly seriously, there seems to be a weight on her for the majority of the book. It’s almost like she has got stuck, and despite her younger sister Aoife being a wild child and the black sheep, I feel it was Monica who was most lost in the story. Aoife also had her own secrets to hide, but I loved her nature and lust for life. The difficulties between the different family members is raw, but something that is easy to relate to – families can fall out and it is often a mystery how or why!

‘Aoife sitting with a face like that. And Monica over by the sideboard, doing that tossing thing with her head and fiddling with a basket of laundry. The pair of them not looking at each other. As if they were strangers.’

The mysteries which are revealed throughout the book give the story momentum and keep you interested. I could not put it down! The observer says the book is ‘addictive…told with real humanity, warmth and infectious love’ and I just cannot put it any better than that. It is absolutely true! Well worth a read.

Did you join in with the book club this month? What were your thoughts on this book? Did you like/dislike the characters? Let me know your thoughts!

Maggie O'Farrell

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