Book: The Heatwave by Kate Riordan
Page count: 344
Published: August 18th 2020 – Grand Central Publishing
Popsugar prompt #37: A book you think your best friend would like
“I want to warn you then that knowing is not always a good thing—that once you know, you can’t un-know. That one revelation can upend everything else, flattening walls you thought were immovable, revealing rooms you wouldn’t want to see into.”
“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 of 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.”
WOW. Just wow. This book is the definition of five stars for me. There wasn’t a single thing I disliked about it! I loved Riordan’s characters, her narrative structure, and her writing style. The setting and atmosphere were perfect and I loved her descriptions of La Reverie. Her imagery is both beautiful and chilling and she mixes in some French dialogue which fit nicely in the story. I don’t have anything to compare this to, but it blew me away and I will be hunting for more books like this.
I couldn’t put this book down because the chapters were relatively short and alternated between the past and present which created so much suspense. I know that not everyone loves books that jump back and forth in time but Riordan does an awesome job with her transitions. Also, even though the book is set in the late sixties/early nineties, it feels modern which makes it easy to become immersed in the story. After each chapter in the present, the following chapter is one year later than the previous one (ex. 1993, 1970, 1993, 1971). In these flashbacks, Sylvie reflects on how raising her first daughter Elodie put a strain on herself and her marriage. I loved these chapters so much because they slowly reveal the mystery of what happened to Elodie. Once we know what happens, the story takes a turn and things get even more intense.
Even with small clues being revealed as the story goes along, Riordan kept me guessing. This book ended up being so much more than I expected. It’s hard to discuss it without giving away spoilers but The Heatwave is about more than a family secret. The main themes are motherhood, marriage, and parenting and I thought they were handled realistically in the context of Sylvie’s circumstances. The ending was WILD and it seems like there could be a sequel, fingers crossed!!