by Kate Riordan
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Pub Date 18 Aug 2020 | Archive Date 30 Jun 2021
Under the scorching French sun, a tense homecoming unearths a long-buried family secret in this deliciously propulsive beach read of a mother's greatest fear brought to life.
Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.
When Sylvie Durand receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in the South of France, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering 1990's summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow, ignoring the deep sense of dread she feels for this place she's long tried to forget.
As memories of the events that shattered their family a decade earlier threaten to come to the surface, Sylvie struggles to shield Emma from the truth of what really happened all those years ago. In every corner of the house, Sylvie can't escape the specter of Elodie, her first child. Elodie, born amid the '68 Paris riots with one blue eye and one brown, and mysteriously dead by fourteen. Elodie, who reminded the small village of one those Manson girls. Elodie who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. As the fires creep towards the villa, it's clear to Sylvie that something isn't quite right at La Reverie... And there is a much greater threat closer to home.
Rich in unforgettable characters, The Heatwave alternates between the past and present, grappling with what it means to love and fear a child in equal measure. With the lush landscape and nostalgia of a heady vacation read, Kate Riordan has woven a gripping page-turner with gorgeous prose that turns the idea of a summer novel on its head.
"Tense and deliciously atmospheric, it unravels a mother-daughter relationship with a growing sense of menace. A gripping and thoroughly enjoyable read."
—Emma Rous, author of The Au Pair
"Sultry, atmospheric and unsettling -- a book to lose yourself in this summer."
—Erin Kelly, author of He Said/She Said and The Poison Tree
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 40 members
A true page-turner! I thoroughly enjoyed this compulsive family story, and found myself racing to the end. Really enjoyed the French setting, and the claustrophobic environment that Riordan creates here.
I liken this novel to a French We Need to Talk About Kevin. Highly unsettling and unputdownable. The plot was fever paced. I finished this novel in one setting!
Set against the backdrop of the beautiful French Provence in the midst of a heatwave, The Heatwave is narrated in the first person by Sylvie whose return to her family home La Réverie (daydreaming) in the south of France forces her to confront the events of a decade earlier that left her young family shattered. From the moment Sylvie and her teenage daughter Emma arrive, they feel the eerie presence of Sylvie’s firstborn daughter Élodie. Sylvie has never told Emma what happed to her older sister - through dual timelines, alternating back and forth, we find out what led Sylvie to leave France with Emma and divorce her husband Greg.
This genre isn’t my typical go-to but I thoroughly enjoyed this one and couldn’t put it down. I think the author did a phenomenal job at portraying Sylvie’s conflicting emotions about Élodie. From a young age, Élodie is a troubled child whose disturbing and manipulative behaviour proves to be a danger to everyone around her. I found myself constantly on edge reading about Élodie’s chilling behaviour. I can’t imagine what it’s like to be a parent to a child you love but also equally fear.
The author also does an amazing job at conjuring up vivid images of the French heat - the cicadas, the sweltering afternoons by the pool, the sweaty and restless nights (without AC) and the smoke and heat from nearby forest fires. It really gives the story about Sylvie’s family’s fate a fitting claustrophobic feel.
I highly recommend this book if you’re looking for a suspenseful summer read.
Thank you so much Netgalley, Kate Riordan and Grand Central Publishing for my gifted copy in exchange for an honest review.
Looking at the cover, I couldn't wait to dive in. Just like hitting the water of the pool, this was refreshing. One day at the beach was all it took cover-to-cover - this was that gripping and seductive!
It's too hard to write a review withing giving anything away, so I'll leave it at that!
Thank you Netgalley and Grand Central for allowing me to read this and give my honest opinion!
Unsettling and atmospheric, this story of a broken family set during an oppressive heatwave, had me gripped from the very start. I loved the slow reveals, alternating timelines and the ominous pacing. There is a return to a neglected home in southern France, where something bad has happened, a family has fractured, and secrets have been kept.... until now. With hints of Shriver’s Kevin, the more the story and the characters unravel, the more I couldn’t tear myself away.....
A sultry, edge-of-your-seat page turner perfect to throw in your beach bag.
It took me awhile to finish this one. Not because it was boring or poorly written. No, it is far from that. It took me awhile to read this one because it is so beautifully written that I needed time to digest it. The plot is so thick and intense that I needed time to think it through and speculate. I wouldn’t consider this a thriller. Rather, an intense slow-burning tale of a mother-daughter relationship that is so gripping, creepy, and chilling.
What would you do if your firstborn child is evil to their core? Would you love them no matter what? Would you try to teach them good vs evil? Would you protect your other children from this evil? These are just a few of the situations that are touched upon in this book. And boy, it is intense.
Kate, your writing is untouchable. It is truly a piece of art. I felt like I was in a crumbling stone mansion in the south of France. In the refreshing pool amidst the oleander trees and lavender garden. In the unimaginable scenario of having to choose between family and safety.