Instructions for a Heatwave - Maggie O'Farrell
I love Maggie O'Farrell, and was very excited when I found out she had a new book coming out. But I absolutely could not wait for the scheduled June release in the U.S. Thank you, Amazon UK!

This is probably Ms. O'Farrell's most mature offering. Not that her previous books had been even remotely adolescent. Far from it. But this story flowed much more easily than her earlier works. I almost miss the disjointed changes in perspective and person from her earlier books, but then the easy flow of this novel would have been lost.

The story itself takes place over one weekend, and as the focus switches from one character to the other, we see their flashbacks which fill in why they are at odds with each other. As always, there is one (or more) dark secret(s) being kept by one or more of the main characters.

The story is all told in the third person, alternating between Gretta, whose husband just disappeared one hot morning, and her three grown children when they all come together to try to figure out what happened to him. Ms. O'Farrell creates such likable yet flawed characters. As they tiptoe around their secrets and grudges, and finally reveal all, you can't help wanting to know that everything will work out for them. Ms. O'Farrell has never been one to give a definite ending to any of her stories, leaving the reader to imagine the ultimate outcome, but this story in particular left me wanting a happily ever after for everyone. They all carried so much baggage for so long, and it was such a relief when they finally let it go, that despite their seeming insurmountable differences, it would be such a waste for them not to be able to work everything out and have everything they want.

Yet as much as I enjoyed the story, it did feel as part of it was missing. I would have liked to have gotten into the head of Gretta's husband, find out his motivations and reactions to each lie by omission he fed his wife, and whether he gave any thought to how his family would react at his disappearance, and how he felt at having his long-held secrets finally pieced together.