Maggie O'Farrell - Instructions for a Heatwave - Headline
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    • Publication date:28 Feb 2013
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Instructions for a Heatwave

By Maggie O'Farrell

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Maggie O'Farrell has now sold over a million books in the UK through Bookscan. She is consistently a hardback bestseller - THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE sold just over 15,000 copies in hardback alone.

The stunning new novel from Costa-Novel-Award-winning novelist Maggie O'Farrell: a portrait of an Irish family in crisis in the legendary heatwave of 1976.

It's July 1976. In London, it hasn't rained for months, gardens are filled with aphids, water comes from a standpipe, and Robert Riordan tells his wife Gretta that he's going round the corner to buy a newspaper. He doesn't come back. The search for Robert brings Gretta's children - two estranged sisters and a brother on the brink of divorce - back home, each wih different ideas as to where their father might have gone. None of them suspects that their mother might have an explanation that even now she cannot share.

Biographical Notes

Maggie O`Farrell is the author of AFTER YOU`D GONE, MY LOVER`S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, and THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9780755358793
  • Publication date: 29 Aug 2013
  • Page count: 352
The Riordans will stay in your mind long after you finish this book. They're funny, infuriating and impossible not to love. They feel like family — Irish Times
My favourite kind of novel: big-hearted, psychologically complex and utterly gripping — Maria Semple, author of Where'd You Go, Bernadette
Unputdownable — Joanna Briscoe, Guardian
Instantly appealing...magical — Daily Telegraph
Masterful...holds you on an exquisite knife-edge — Marie Claire
An author at the top of her game — Sunday Express
O'Farrell's language is lissom, airborne, mostly seamless, her characters flawed, contradictory, aggravating and instantly knowable. This is a deceptively easy, effortlessly true-feeling novel; a total delight — Metro
A quite wonderful novel...at once enthralling, page turning and atmospheric — Irish Examiner
Tinder Press

Maggie O'Farrell: A Reader's Guide - free digital compendium

Maggie O'Farrell
Headline Review

The Hand That First Held Mine

Maggie O'Farrell
Headline Review

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Maggie O'Farrell
Headline Review

The Distance Between Us

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of six novels, AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, and INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

Headline Review

After You'd Gone

Maggie O'Farrell
Headline Review

My Lover's Lover

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell's second novel is an intense, unnerving and passionate story of betrayal, loss and love, with all the frisson and psychological intensity of REBECCA.When Lily moves into Marcus's flat and plunges headlong into a relationship, she must contend not merely with the disapproval of flatmate Aidan, but with a more intangible, hostile presence. Could it be that Sinead, Marcus's ex, is trying to communicate with her? When Lily begins to 'see' Sinead, first about the flat, and then on the streets of London, she must question not merely her sanity, but whether the man she loves is someone she can, or indeed ought, to live with at all.

Author

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of five novels, AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, and THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

Posted by Samantha Eades, Publicity

Blog: Headline toasts 3 World Book Night titles!

On Monday 24th October the official 25 World Book Night titles were unveiled at drinks reception at Waterstone’s Piccadilly. We at Headline were lucky enough to have three titles on this year’s list: The Take by Martina Cole, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell and Small Island by Andrea Levy.

Posted by Mary-Anne Harrington, Editorial

Blog: Summer Reads

Though the sun may only now be peeking through the clouds, we at Tinder Press have been counting down to summer, or at least the publication of Maggie O’Farrell’s INSTRUCTIONS FOR HEATWAVE, for many weeks now. But which are the summer reads that have made us the readers we are today – we asked our team to tell us more about the books that spell ‘summer’ to them.

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

Tinder Press: One Year Old Today

A year ago we launched the list at a candlelit party in a crypt, surrounded by authors, colleagues and friends in the book trade. Since then, we’ve had a Sunday Times bestseller in the mighty Maggie O’Farrell’s INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was also shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award. We launched four brilliant debut authors with a splash, one of whom, Michel Rostain, was selected for the prestigious Waterstones 11 promotion with THE SON, and we’ve also been thrilled to welcome some wonderful new talent, including the acclaimed Patrick Gale, to the list. Our authors have done events across the UK and performed at literary nights; our editors have chaired events and hosted publishing masterclasses; we've been to literary festivals and we've toured round bookshops; we’ve rolled out the Tinder Press Book Club, our initiative for reaching out to indies in every corner of the country, and we’ve collected over 4000 followers on twitter. We've talked and talked and talked some more, about Tinder Press and our passion for publishing the very best literary fiction, to anyone who’ll listen - from agents to booksellers to journalists, bloggers and, of course, readers. We wanted you to get to know us. Our aim was always to create an imprint that stands for integrity and quality, but also feels intimate, and accessible. We ultimately want the Tinder Press name to be one that people feel they can trust. I hope, in the year that we’ve been publishing, we’ve gone some way towards achieving that; it will be what continues to drive everything we do in the future. So tonight we’ll be celebrating our first birthday in the best way we know how, with a party somewhere buzzy and candlelit. And we’ll be raising a glass, to toast of course our incredible authors and their incredible books, but also the first year in the life of something we hope will endure for many more. Tinder Press will be celebrating its first birthday at The Lucky Pig, from 7pm on 25th Feb.

Posted by Leah Woodburn, Editorial

Blog: Announcing Tinder Press!

It is no ordinary day here at Headline Towers, for it is the day that we finally announced the arrival of our new imprint, Tinder Press. It's a hugely exciting endeavour for us, and we can't wait to tell you more about the fantastic books we'll be publishing – do keep an eye out for them here. And, despite the fact that we're not launching till next year, we're already chattering away: do follow us on Twitter @TinderPress, have a peek at our website: www.tinderpress.co.uk/, and, lo! we’re even on Pintrest: pinterest.com/tinderpress/ The stories are coming…

Maggie speaks of her novels, inspirations, and more

Read an interview with Maggie O'Farrell

1. Was your childhood ambition always to be a writer? If not, what inspired you to start writing? It was. I’ve no idea where the impulse sprang from but I can’t remember life without it. 2. How long have you been writing? I have a very clear memory of struggling with a story when I was about four or five. I asked my mother if she would write it for me and her reply made a huge impression on me. She said, ‘But if I wrote it it would be my story, not yours.’ It was a very astute answer, I think, as it spurred me to try harder. I’ve kept a diary since I was about nine and wrote stories during my teens. At university and in my early twenties I attended poetry classes, where I was taught by Jo Shapcott and then Michael Donaghy. These had a huge effect on my writing, forcing me to economise, to make each word pull its weight. I was 24 when I started writing what would eventually become my first novel, After You’d Gone. 3. What do you enjoy most about writing? I love the solitude and the secrecy of it - as well as the escapism. 4. Which writers do you admire? Dead ones: Charlotte Bronte, RL Stevenson, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Leo Tolstoy, Anthony Burgess, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Molly Keane, James Hogg, Angela Carter, Virginia Woolf. Alive ones: Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, JM Coetzee, Michele Roberts, Ali Smith, Kate Atkinson, David Mitchell, Colum McCann, Peter Carey, Jeanette Winterson, William Boyd. 5. Which authors have influenced your writing the most and why? That’s a hard question. There are too many of them. The simplest answer would be, initially, Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Albert Camus. I read them in my teens; your skin is at its thinnest then and you are at your most porous. What you read then will affect you for the rest of your life and I fell for Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper and The Outsider: they changed the way I looked at the world and my concept of what fiction could do. More recently, I’ve been entranced by Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, Angela Carter. If I like a book I might read it several times and with each read you find something different. There are books I will study. I’ve been poring over Mrs Dalloway in the last few months, trying to unpick the prose and the structure, in an attempt to work out how Woolf does it. It’s almost impossible, as it’s so brilliantly and tightly written. 6. What was the last good book you read? I’ve just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, her interpretation of the Odysseus myth. I loved it as it always bothered me that Penelope seemed so uncomplaining and patient in the face of her husband’s extended absence and persistant infidelity. 7. To what extent has your life experience influenced your writing? I don’t use my life in my novels, or not directly. I would never write autobiographically as I tend to write as an alternative to my life, not a repetition or imitation of it. But inevitably there are elements of it that come into my books, in different forms. I think all fiction is a patchwork of things you’ve made up, things you’ve borrowed or heard or read somewhere, and things you’ve translated from life. 8. Do you always know how your books will end before you start writing? No, not at all and that’s part of the pleasure. I have a quote by Picasso beside my desk: ‘If you know exactly what you are going to do, what is the point of doing it?’ I couldn’t imagine anything worse than planning every last detail of a book and then spending the next two or three years working through that plan. I enjoy the way your ideas for a book mutate and alter as you go along. I start – sometimes at the beginning, sometimes in the middle – often without any idea how it will end. And if I do begin with an image for the ending in mind usually by the time I get to the end it’s all changed. 9. What inspired your new novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox? It is a novel I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I first had the idea – of a woman who is incarcerated in an asylum for a lifetime – fifteen years ago. I tried to write it then, as my first novel, but it didn’t work and I ended up abandoning it to write After You’d Gone instead. This was in the mid nineties, after Thatcher’s Care in the Community Act, when psychiatric hospitals were being closed down and patients turfed out. There were a lot of stories flying around at that time of people, particularly women, like Esme who had been put away for reasons of immorality and left to rot. A friend told me about his grandmother’s cousin, who had just died in an asylum, having been put there in her early twenties for “eloping with a legal clerk”. The idea never went away and I gradually amassed more and more stories and examples of girls who had been committed in the early Twentieth century for little more that being disobedient or incalcitrant. When you start to dig a little deeper, into case notes and medical reports, the findings are terrifying. I’ve always been interested in the idea of what happens to the same type of woman – uncompromising, unconventional, refusing to fit into the domestic role society has set out for her – at different times in history. Centuries ago, she might have been condemned as a witch but as recently as sixty years ago she might have been deemed insane and committed to an asylum. 10. How is your new novel different from the previous ones? It feels very different to me, in lots of way. It’s partly historical as most of the book takes place in 1930s Edinburgh and colonial India. I think it’s tighter than the others: there are only three main characters, whereas the others have tended to be more wide-ranging. I did a great deal more research for it, on psychiatric practices and institutions, on life and society in the 1930s.

Maggie speaks of her novels, inspirations, and more

Read an interview with Maggie O'Farrell

1. Was your childhood ambition always to be a writer? If not, what inspired you to start writing? It was. I’ve no idea where the impulse sprang from but I can’t remember life without it. 2. How long have you been writing? I have a very clear memory of struggling with a story when I was about four or five. I asked my mother if she would write it for me and her reply made a huge impression on me. She said, ‘But if I wrote it it would be my story, not yours.’ It was a very astute answer, I think, as it spurred me to try harder. I’ve kept a diary since I was about nine and wrote stories during my teens. At university and in my early twenties I attended poetry classes, where I was taught by Jo Shapcott and then Michael Donaghy. These had a huge effect on my writing, forcing me to economise, to make each word pull its weight. I was 24 when I started writing what would eventually become my first novel, After You’d Gone. 3. What do you enjoy most about writing? I love the solitude and the secrecy of it - as well as the escapism. 4. Which writers do you admire? Dead ones: Charlotte Bronte, RL Stevenson, George Eliot, Edith Wharton, Leo Tolstoy, Anthony Burgess, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Molly Keane, James Hogg, Angela Carter, Virginia Woolf. Alive ones: Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, JM Coetzee, Michele Roberts, Ali Smith, Kate Atkinson, David Mitchell, Colum McCann, Peter Carey, Jeanette Winterson, William Boyd. 5. Which authors have influenced your writing the most and why? That’s a hard question. There are too many of them. The simplest answer would be, initially, Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Albert Camus. I read them in my teens; your skin is at its thinnest then and you are at your most porous. What you read then will affect you for the rest of your life and I fell for Jane Eyre and The Yellow Wallpaper and The Outsider: they changed the way I looked at the world and my concept of what fiction could do. More recently, I’ve been entranced by Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy, Edith Wharton, Angela Carter. If I like a book I might read it several times and with each read you find something different. There are books I will study. I’ve been poring over Mrs Dalloway in the last few months, trying to unpick the prose and the structure, in an attempt to work out how Woolf does it. It’s almost impossible, as it’s so brilliantly and tightly written. 6. What was the last good book you read? I’ve just finished Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad, her interpretation of the Odysseus myth. I loved it as it always bothered me that Penelope seemed so uncomplaining and patient in the face of her husband’s extended absence and persistant infidelity. 7. To what extent has your life experience influenced your writing? I don’t use my life in my novels, or not directly. I would never write autobiographically as I tend to write as an alternative to my life, not a repetition or imitation of it. But inevitably there are elements of it that come into my books, in different forms. I think all fiction is a patchwork of things you’ve made up, things you’ve borrowed or heard or read somewhere, and things you’ve translated from life. 8. Do you always know how your books will end before you start writing? No, not at all and that’s part of the pleasure. I have a quote by Picasso beside my desk: ‘If you know exactly what you are going to do, what is the point of doing it?’ I couldn’t imagine anything worse than planning every last detail of a book and then spending the next two or three years working through that plan. I enjoy the way your ideas for a book mutate and alter as you go along. I start – sometimes at the beginning, sometimes in the middle – often without any idea how it will end. And if I do begin with an image for the ending in mind usually by the time I get to the end it’s all changed. 9. What inspired your new novel The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox? It is a novel I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I first had the idea – of a woman who is incarcerated in an asylum for a lifetime – fifteen years ago. I tried to write it then, as my first novel, but it didn’t work and I ended up abandoning it to write After You’d Gone instead. This was in the mid nineties, after Thatcher’s Care in the Community Act, when psychiatric hospitals were being closed down and patients turfed out. There were a lot of stories flying around at that time of people, particularly women, like Esme who had been put away for reasons of immorality and left to rot. A friend told me about his grandmother’s cousin, who had just died in an asylum, having been put there in her early twenties for “eloping with a legal clerk”. The idea never went away and I gradually amassed more and more stories and examples of girls who had been committed in the early Twentieth century for little more that being disobedient or incalcitrant. When you start to dig a little deeper, into case notes and medical reports, the findings are terrifying. I’ve always been interested in the idea of what happens to the same type of woman – uncompromising, unconventional, refusing to fit into the domestic role society has set out for her – at different times in history. Centuries ago, she might have been condemned as a witch but as recently as sixty years ago she might have been deemed insane and committed to an asylum. 10. How is your new novel different from the previous ones? It feels very different to me, in lots of way. It’s partly historical as most of the book takes place in 1930s Edinburgh and colonial India. I think it’s tighter than the others: there are only three main characters, whereas the others have tended to be more wide-ranging. I did a great deal more research for it, on psychiatric practices and institutions, on life and society in the 1930s.

Her novels, inspirations and more

An interview with Maggie O'Farrell

Click here to read an interview with Maggie O'Farrell, where she talks about her novels, inspirations and more.

Elaine Egan, Publicity

Blog: Tinder Press goes to the Edinburgh Festival

Team Tinder donned their kilts and gamely hopped onto the East Coast rail in search of historic architecture, chillier climates, crowds of musicians, actors, acrobats, circus performers and all the many varied folk who make up the phenomenal event that is the Edinburgh Festival. Oh, and to see some of our fantastic Tinder Press authors in action at the Literature Festival, of course. Here’s a little snapshot of our Tinder authors’ events: Peggy Riley's Amity & Sorrow offers an incredibly uncomfortable insight into the lives of a small family who've recently run away from an obscure, albeit fictional, religious cult. But in her event with fellow writer Jenn Ashworth, On Faith and Family, Peggy described how, though the cult and world of Amity & Sorrow is fiction, many of the aspects and idiosyncrasies of cult life she describes are very much based on real events and case studies. Both authors admitted to being a tad obsessed with how extreme faith affects everyday family life, but it is because of this obsession that the audience were treated to such an interesting discussion, and so there were certainly no complaints from the crowd! Amity & Sorrow is available now, priced £7.99 Ben Willis, Publicity Sitting in the audience at Maggie O’Farrell’s sold out event in Edinburgh, I took a quick glance around the room and could see that everyone was enthralled. Maggie’s reading from her latest novel, Instructions For A Heatwave, had the crowd laughing in many places and awed in others with her lyrical prose and beautiful turn of phrase. Delving into the issues of literacy and feminism which she has tackled in Instructions, Maggie spoke about how she believed there was no such thing as gender in writing stating, ‘I wouldn’t pick up a book just because it was written by a man’. Intriguing questions from the audience about Maggie’s style of writing: her use of intricate characters and the importance of time and place in her writing, coupled with the warmth and sincerity of a much loved author made it a very enjoyable event. Although it was raining when we emerged from the tent, the audience were all aglow from what many told me was the highlight of their festival. Instructions For A Heatwave is available now, priced £7.99. Elaine Egan, Publicity Brian Kimberling’s discussion of Snapper with chair Serena Field and fellow author Allan Wilson, author of Wasted in Love, was a fascinating one to watch. The two authors are, in many ways, very different – Brian writes about Indiana and the Midwest whereas Allan writes in a gritty, urban setting about the lives of Glaswegians. Both writers are very sharp and incisive, however, and their novels share similar themes: those of young people’s connection to the place that they come from, and the challenges they face as they grow older. Both are very funny writers, and speakers – Brian’s dramatic reading from Snapper had me in stitches (particularly when he had to pick the lectern up to be nearer to the microphone, as he’s so tall) – he read out one of my favourite scenes: the Gypsy Moth, the barely-roadworthy old bus driven by Nathan, the main character, pulls into the town of Santa Claus, where all the residents club together to reply to all the letters they receive yearly from children who believe they are writing to the real Father Christmas. The best kind of literary events, I find, are those which are thought-provoking yet funny too, and leave the audience grinning from ear to ear: I certainly came away from this event with a big smile on my face. Emily Kitchin, Editorial Snapper is available now, priced £7.99.

Download a sampler

Instructions for a Heatwave

Click here for a sneak peek at Maggie O'Farrell's wonderful new book. This stunning novel depicts a portrait of an Irish family in crisis, during the legendary heatwave of 1976 and is as richly comic as it is painfully well-observed. Join the conversation on twitter #heatwave

Best of 2013

As 2013 draws to a close, we look back on some of our highlights of the past twelve months...

Maggie O'Farrell talks about Instructions for a Heatwave

#heatwave

Maggie O'Farrell talks about

Instructions for a Heatwave