Holiday Reading – October 2013

This month’s books both have marriage at their core.  Maggie O’ Farrell’s, Instructions For A Heatwave, reveals that no matter how long you have been married to someone you may not know even the most fundamental things about them.

The book is set in the 1976 UK heatwave and starts on a normal morning for married couple Robert and Gretta Riordan.  Robert nips out to buy a newspaper and doesn’t come back which results in the couple’s three children, Monica, Aoife and Michael, all having to come together to try to work out why their father has disappeared and where he has gone.  As with all ofl O’Farrell’s books her characters have their own decisions to deal with and this one is no different.  Michael’s own marriage is struggling as his wife has returned to college after being a full time mum; Monica is convincing herself that the relationship she has with a man with a not yet ex wife and his two daughters is perfect and Aoife is very much the black sheep of the family and has ran away to the US to hide her own shortcomings.

All of the characters are likeable in their own ways and you can’t help but want them all to be happy.  In parts the search for Robert is very much the secondary plot as sibling rivalries are uncovered and secrets that some knew and others didn’t are unravelled.

I’d definitely recommend this as a good read and now winter is with us it’s perfect for long nights at home.  In truth I’d recommend any Maggie O’Farrell novel, she genuinely writes very compelling stories.

Instructions For A Heatwave cover

Instructions For A Heatwave – Maggie O’Farrell

The second book is Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach.  Again, I’ve read quite a few of Moggach’s books in the past including The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which was made into a film.  Heartbreak Hotel includes characters from one of Moggach’s other books, The Ex Wives, which I haven’t read and didn’t really feel like I had to.  Russell ‘Buffy’ Buffery is at the centre of the novel, a retired actor and serial divorcee who is left a B&B in Wales courtesy of his good friend Bridie’s will.  Soon realising that a B&B is only successful with paying guests Buffy comes up  with a plan to run ‘Courses For Divorces’ to fill the beds.

Soon his B&B is over-run by a curious group of random guests, most of which are recently separated and almost all of whom learn nothing about the courses they come to find out more about in the first place.  As the heartbroken start to discover things about themselves and their failed relationships they then find the confidence to get back out there and find new love, intentionally or otherwise.

Although it’s an easy read it does feel a bit too easy sometimes in terms of you sort of know everyone is going to live happily ever after in some way shape or form.  The speed at which people fall in love and the simplicity of who with is a bit unbelievable such as Amy, a make up artist who gets together the local boy teaching the car maintenance course who still lives with his hypochondriac mum.  It’s just all a little bit implausible.  Although you could imagine Richard Curtis having a good go at adapting it for the big screen.

Heartbreak Hotel cover

Heartbreak Hotel – Deborah Moggach

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