While a heat wave rages in 1970s London, a charming family is in crisis. The head of the household–Robert Riordan–has disappeared. The youngest daughter, Aoife, who left for New York, returns to help her family deal with her father’s disappearance.
Aoife and her sister Monica who have a strained relationship attempt to settle their differences. Monica blames Aoife for divulging a secret to her ex-husband. Aoife denies revealing anything to Rob, Monica’s first husband.
In fact, none of the Riordan’s have problem-free relationships. Michael Francis and his wife have a troubled marriage. Despite believing she had a wonderful marriage, Gretta suspects her husband abandoned the family after they find money taken from their account.
Aoife is in love with someone but she hides the fact that she is dyslexic from him.
O’Farrell does a wonderful job of balancing the different points of view of the siblings with those of Gretta. The problems in the Riordan family are well-developed and handled with humor and irony.