Set in July 1976 when the UK was in the midst of a heatwave this tells the story of the Riordans, a family who reunite when Robert Riordan, a retired banker, goes out for his morning paper and doesn't return.
Festering bad feelings between sisters Aoife and Monica come to a head, their mother, Gretta, a familiar Irish matriarchal type (who reminds me of some of my aunts) reveals long held secrets, son Michael Francis and his wife have a relationship at breaking point, and Aoife has carried a secret of her own all her life. O'Farrell reveals their truths with perfect timing. And oh, the pictures she paints are glorious. Her writing is gorgeous, the words slip by, effortlessly creating images and racking up the tension as if in a thriller.
"The beach and water shimmer and refract in the heat; seaweed dries to rocks; sand cracks and powders in the sun."
And aren't you seeing that beach now?