London, 1976, is in the middle of a heatwave. Without air conditioning, the inhabitants are starting to feel the effects of the relentless high temperatures and that is reflected in some atypical behavior on the streets, in the workplaces, and most of all -- in the homes of those there.
One particular family is about to experience its own meltdown. Matriarch Gretta -- highly opinionated, bossy, talkative -- calls out to her estranged grown children to come home when her loving husband of thirty years, Robert (Ronan) Riordan, inexplicably vanishes one day while out to pick up the morning newspaper. He simply fails to return home. Monica, living out in the suburbs in an early-Victorian farmhouse with a new husband and stepdaughters, was the favorite child. Although she has made her share of mistakes, she is still tightly connected to her mother and doesn't hesitate to come. Middle child, son Michael Francis, is a history teacher just on summer break, with a slowly failing marriage and silently bearing his own responsibility for its demise. The baby of the family, Aoife, has moved across the pond and is living in Manhattan. She has left her family and history behind only to find that her hidden illiteracy can't be escaped. This secretive family is about to find out that their childhood was riddled with secrets and protected truths. Will it hurt them or finally heal them?
As the siblings gather for the first time in many years, old painful memories, misconceptions and miscommunications bubble to the surface from where they have been simmering inside each one for years. A few serendipitous clues lead the family to their ancestral island home in Ireland where unexpected revelations help them reunite at last.
Told from the point of view of each character, the reader sees how the twists and turns of family dynamics and individual struggles has affected each of them. In discovering the truth about their parents, they also have the strength to finally confront the painful realities of their own lives.
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