Not as speedy a read ad the date might suggest – I got distracted by A Journey to Nowhere, more in the mood for some foreign travel rather than travelling back in time to 1976.
But having completed my diversion into Courland, I returned to Instructions for a Heatwave and found Maggie O’Farrell on her usual excellent form, following the London-Irish Riordan family through a tough few days during the sweltering summer of ’76. I particularly liked her description of The Imaginary People In The Kitchen which comes after the end of the novel proper, and which explains its origins.
Publisher page: Instructions for a Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell
Maggie O’Farrell on motherhood, love and family relationships. Parallel stories of 60s blue stocking journalist Lexie and 21st century Finnish artist Elina, their husbands and lovers and children. With a bit of mystery thrown in. Read in one sitting in my marathon reading weekend.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Hand That First Held Mine – Maggie O’Farrell
Another enjoyable, angst ridden novel by Maggie O’Farrell, although in this one the path of true love does seem to run a little bit more smoothly than in After You’d Gone.
One half of this is the tale of Scottish-Italian twins, with brief glimpses of the love and lives of their parents and grandparents, their relationships with one another (good) and the significant relationships with people they encounter from schooldays onwards (generally bad).
The other half tells the story of another cultural hotchpotch – Jake, born of a short lived on-the-road-relationship between his hippy Welsh mother and vanished Scottish father, and brought up from birth, single-handedly by his mother in Hong Kong.
Maggie O’Farrell reveals details of her characters piecemeal all the way through the novel, and jumps between times and locations right up to the very end. Some might find this frustrating, but to me it is rather like the way in which you find out about the history, hopes and hang ups of the friends you make in real life.
Amazon.co.uk link: The Distance Between Us – Maggie O’Farrell
I’d been on the look out for another Maggie O’Farrell novel after loving After You’d Gone, and My Lover’s Lover didn’t disappoint. The novel plots the relationship between naive Lily and self-centred Marcus, with occasional insights from Marcus’ friend and flatmate Adam, and Marcus’ former girlfriend Sinead.
The early parts in particular provide an eerie read, which the later parts unpick and normalise. Throughout, the novel dissects relationships of all shapes and sizes, and people’s commitment to them. The only disappointment was the end…. it was just a little too neat for my liking.
Buy it: Amazon link
A beautiful, passionate, heartbreaking novel on love and loss.
One of the best books I’ve read this year.
Buy it: Amazon link