First Chapter: Instructions for a Heatwave

First chapterEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where you can share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book you are reading or thinking about reading soon.

I’ve just started to read Instructions for a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell. I loved an earlier book by her, The Hand That First Held Mine, and so far this one looks just as good.

It begins:

The heat, the heat. It wakes Gretta just after dawn, propelling her from her bed and down the stairs. It inhabits the house like a guest who has outstayed his welcome: it lies along corridors, it circles around curtains, it lolls heavily on sofas and chairs. The air in the kitchen is like a solid entity filling the space, pushing Gretta down onto the floor, against the side of the table.

Only she would choose to bake bread in such weather.

I like this opening, setting the scene and establishing the heat as a physical presence, a character to be reckoned with. This is July 1976 and London is in the grip of a heatwave. (It was not just London, because I remember it very well where I was living in Cheshire in the north-west.) Gretta’s husband pops out of the house to buy a newspaper – but he doesn’t come back – this is a story of a family in crisis.

I’m drawn into this book right from the beginning – what do you think? Would you keep reading?

15 thoughts on “First Chapter: Instructions for a Heatwave

  1. Margaret – Oh, that is a compelling and well-written intro! Such a great style. Thanks for sharing.


  2. I probably would keep reading, mainly because of the last sentence, such a sense of heat usually puts me off books though. I remember 1976 well, the year we got married, a heat wave until August in Scotland, when I stood shivering in my wedding dress!


  3. I would keep reading this one. I like O’Farrell’s writing. I was reading The Hand that First Held Mine but I stalled in the middle. It’s nothing to do with the book which is great. I was having some issues with reading, I just couldn’t get into anything at that time. I’m going to pick up The Hand that First Held Mine again soon since my disinterest in reading has passed!
    I hope you enjoy this book! Happy Reading!


  4. Oh my goodness, I glory her spunk. I could never bake bread if I were already feeling hot. I love the way the author describes the heat. I would have to keep reading.


  5. We experienced our first snowfall yesterday so I could use a little bit of that heat, not all of it mind you, just a bit! Enjoy the book.


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