This Little Bag of Dreams

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,/How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Month: April, 2013

Husband Missing by Polly Williams

I have read all bar one of Polly Williams’ novels, and her first, The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy, is still my favourite. Husband Missing, and I’m sure you can guess the main plot, enters darker territory, and successfully so, I’m pleased to say.

Gina Adler has been married for six months to the gorgeous and rich Rex. Life is a beach. Until, that is, Rex goes missing from one. Where is he? Is he as good a windsurfer as he makes out? And will he come back to her?

I’ll leave no spoilers here – I’m not that sort of reviewer – but suffice to say, Williams is on her usual skinny jeans and heartbreak form in this powerful novel. Do you know who your friends and family really are? You will want to find out after reading Husband Missing.

Instructions For a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell


Instructions For a Heatwave was the Waterstones Book of the Month for March and is the first Maggie O’Farrell novel which I have read. I am certain it won’t be the last.

It is 1976 and the hottest summer since records began: ‘it inhabits the house like a guest who has outstayed his welcome’. Gretta Riordan, Irish-born, London-living, is baking soda bread, and Robert Riordan, her restless husband, is going to get a newspaper. He doesn’t return.

The greatest achievement of Instructions For a Heatwave is not its plot, despite the skill therein, but rather its deft portrayal of a family breakdown (or several family breakdowns, perhaps). For there are huge secrets within the Riordan clan: Michael Francis’s infidelity, the effect of Aoife in utero on Gretta, and Aoife’s dyslexia.

What I enjoyed the most about the novel, however, was O’Farrell’s portrayals of Ireland, Irishness and attitudes to the Irish. Take Michael Francis’s future father in law’s questions:

‘From Northern Ireland? Or southern Ireland?’

‘Ah. But you’re not IRA, are you?’

I have taken a long time to read this book. But then, it is no page turner, like Gone Girl. Rather, it is a deliciously long yet rewarding walk, with a glittering view over the sea to savour at the end. It will stay with me a long time.