Today, the Riordans. No ice storm, but still the 1970s, specifically, 1976, when Britain faced a legendary heatwave. Maggie O'Farrell's Instructions for a Heatwave tells the story of a family scattered to the far corners and brought back together by devastating secrets.
Gretta Riordan is enjoying another day of retirement with her husband, if you can call surviving the stifling heat "enjoying," when he goes out to get the newspaper and doesn't return. The police don't suspect foul play, because he stopped by the bank to empty the account and take his passport, so Gretta has to rely on her three grown children to help figure out what happened.
Michael Francis is a teacher in London with an unhappy wife and two rambunctious kids. Monica is recently in a new relationship with two stepdaughters who hate her and a husband who baffles her. And Aoife, the youngest, has found her way to New York City, where she works as an aide to a prominent photographer by day and at a dance club by night. Each of the Riordan kids has their own struggles, but they try to set those aside as they come together to help their mother.
I haven't finished reading this book yet, but all I want to do is sit down and dive back into it. The writing is beautiful, the characters are well-developed and fascinating, and I can't wait to find out why their father left and where he went. Gretta's strong Irish roots and her equally strong ideas for her children makes her a fantastic backbone to this story, but I'm so drawn to her children as well.
Where I struggled to connect with the characters in The Ice Storm and their ennui, the characters in Instructions for a Heatwave have pulled me into their lives and made me want to push everything else aside and get to know them better. I'm not sure where the story will take me, but I can't wait to find out. I highly recommend this book. It's a fabulous story and a great escape from the super-cold winter days that are heading our way. This one is a keeper!