Instructions for a Heatwave (O'Farrell) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
[O'Farrell] has made her mark by combining the elements of good old-­fashioned drama—love affairs in the shadows, the reappearance of long-lost relatives, hidden wives—with a modern lightness of touch in language and a deft freedom in moving her narratives forward through juxtaposition rather than linear plotting. For the reader, this can feel like having one’s cake and eating it too. O’Farrell’s novels appeal to a broad audience, but they’re also smart and provocative. Over and over, they try to work out who people really are, how ordinary lives can conceal extraordinary stories.
Stacey D'Erasmo - New York Times Book Review


Riveting.... Finely drawn... Once again, O’Farrell demonstrates her mastery at depicting strained relationships, skewed family loyalties, and the just reachable light at the end of the tunnel.
Minneapolis Star Tribune


Acutely observed…revelatory, redemptive, and moving…There is a deliciousness to this novel, a warmth and readability that render it unputdownable and will surely make it a hit. O’Farrell has done it again.
Joanna Briscoe - Guardian (UK)
 

An accomplished and addictive story told with real humanity, warmth, and infectious love for the characters. Highly recommended,
Viv Groskop - Observer (UK)
 

A literary event…evocative, articulate, and joyously readable…O’Farrell’s talent for drawing intriguing but relatable characters is eclipsed only by a rare gift for description that is almost photographic in its imagery…An author at the top of her game.
Charlotte Heathcote - Sunday Express (UK)
 

Humorous, humane, and perceptive…O’Farrell depicts relationships with piercing acuity in haunting, intense prose…a deliciously insightful writer…Her sharp but humane eye dissects every form of human interaction.
Leyla Sanai - Independent on Sunday (UK)
 

Elegant, lyrical, and subtle…O’Farell’s a compassionate writer, showing us every member of the family from a variety of viewpoints, ensuring that we understand and feel for every one of them even as they drive each other mad…The Riordans will stay in your mind long after you finish reading this book. They’re funny, infuriating, and impossible not to love. They feel like family.
Anna Carey - Irish Times (UK)
 

Thoroughly absorbing and beautifully written…A novel about what we say and what other people hear; about families; what we don’t tell each other and what we do; the compromises and accommodations we make and what happens when we build our lives around half-truths.
Victoria Moore -  Daily Mail (UK)
 
 
A ripping yarn…A brilliant domestic drama that teeters on the edge of being a thriller; it’ll hook you in at the start and keep you dangling.
Katie Law - Evening Standard (UK)
 

O’Farrell is adept at creating pace out of the intricacies of family relations. She keeps the gas up on the Bunsen burner throughout...I felt that I gobbled this book.
Vicky Allan - Herald (UK)


A rich, barbed interplay among siblings, who gibe, snap, and snipe as they go through their father's things, slowly teasing out one another's long-buried secrets—and a few of Gretta’s and Robert’s, too.
Entertainment Weekly


When Gretta Riordan's husband, Robert, disappears during the 1976 London heatwave, her three grown children return home for the first time in years.... [T]he siblings and their mother are forced to confront old resentments which bubble to the surface. O'Farrell skillfully navigates between past and present.... An absorbing read from start to finish, through O'Farrell's vibrant prose, each character comes alive as more is revealed and the novel unfolds.
Publishers Weekly


During an infamous heat wave in 1976 London, Robert Riordan fails to return after heading out to buy a newspaper, and wife Gretta calls in her grown children for help. Multi-award-winning O'Farrell should be a household name here.
Library Journal


A beautiful portrait of family life. The story really blossoms in the second half . . . where the family’s secrets and private feuds come raging forth so that the true healing can begin.
Booklist


An Irish family saga, replete with secrets, rivalries, and misbehavior becomes a compelling and entertaining story in Maggie O’Farrell’s hands.... O’Farrell takes readers on journeys interior and exterior—recounted in flawless prose that will have you reading while strap-hanging, standing in line, or waiting at a stop light.
Shelf Awareness


A sometimes-brooding but always sympathetic novel, by prize-winning British writer O'Farrell, of a family's struggles to overlook the many reasons why they should avoid each other's glances and phone calls.... [N]o one's quite normal, which is exactly as it is with every family on Earth.... O'Farrell paints a knowing, affectionate, sometimes exasperated portrait of these beleaguered people, who are bound by love, if a sometimes-wary love, but torn apart by misunderstanding, just like all the rest of us. A skillfully written novel of manners, with quiet domestic drama spiced with fine comic moments. The payoff is priceless, too.
Kirkus Reviews




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