Tuesday 19 April 2016

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O'Farrell

Meet Daniel Sullivan, a man with a complicated life. A New Yorker living in the wilds of Ireland, he has children he never sees in California, a father he loathes in Brooklyn and a wife, Claudette, who is a reclusive ex-film star given to shooting at anyone who ventures up their driveway.
He is also about to find out something about a woman he lost touch with twenty years ago, and this discovery will send him off-course, far away from wife and home.
Will his love for Claudette be enough to bring him back? 

This Must Be The Place by Maggie O'Farrell is published in hardback by Tinder Press on 17 May 2016, and is the author's seventh novel.

This Must Be The Place is probably my most anticipated new book of 2016. I have read everything that Maggie O'Farrell has written, and adored every one of her books.  Her writing is subtle, delicate and compelling, she is a master of her art.

When I was eleven-years old, I started to study the theory of music. Music had always been central to our family life; the radio was always playing, my parents had a vast collection of eight-track cartridges and my brother and I still relate various childhood events according to what was playing on the stereo at the time. As a small child, I didn't think about the composition of the tunes, I just sang along, sometimes making up my own words, but always immersed in the tune.

I started to learn to play the clarinet and got a place in the school band. I was absolutely amazed to find that the woodwind section didn't play the tune from end to end, that we had a section of our own to play. Each section came together under the instruction of the conductor and created the whole tune. I had never realised that.

This Must Be The Place reminds me of an orchestra, finely tuned and conducted by Maggie O'Farrell. Each character has their own part to play, and reading each section on its own would make no sense. The reader would wonder how the story of a young girl who works in a film studio and becomes a film star can possibly be connected to an American Irish guy, married with two young children, living in New York. How does the struggle to adopt a Chinese baby fit in, and the mysterious downfall of a young woman left lying on the grass after a drug-fuelled party? Just like the conductor who ably blends all of the sections together, Maggie O'Farrell conducts her story to create a symphony that will thrill and delight her readers with her beautifully adept prose, her cleverly created characters and their magnificent storyline.

There are plenty of characters who each have their own stories, but at its heart, This Must Be The Place is the story of a marriage. It is Daniel and Claudette's relationship played out in the finest detail, with secrets that are suddenly revealed that will shock the reader and which turn the story completely on its head, taking it down paths that are unexpected and at times, quite difficult to travel.

The story takes place in many countries, over many years, crossing borders and time zones with an ease that exposes the genius of this author. Her ability to create incredibly flawed characters who really should be despicable yet who the reader easily falls in love with is breathtaking. I have no doubt that Daniel who is complicated and can make the most disastrous of decisions will capture the heart of every reader and his faults will be forgiven. His wife, Claudette is forceful and domineering, used to having her own way, her actions dominate the story and reflect on each of the supporting characters. And, whilst the other characters are indeed, a support cast, each one of them is fully formed, with vivid and colourful personalities whose personal stories add so much to this wonderful novel.

This Must Be A Place is a novel to talk about, to discuss and to debate. It should be savoured and treasured. Maggie O'Farrell proves once again that she is one of the finest authors of our time.

Huge thanks to Georgina at Tinder Press who sent my copy for review.

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of seven novels, After You'd Gone, My Lover's Lover, The Distance Between Us which won a Somerset Maugham Award, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, The Hand That First Held Mine which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, Instructions for a Heatwave and This Must Be The Place.

She was born in Northern Ireland in 1972, and grew up in Wales and Scotland. She now lives in Edinburgh with her family.

Find out more about Maggie O'Farrell and her writing at her website www.maggieofarrell.com
Find her Author page on Facebook 



  1. I enjoyed this novel, but found the constant change of time, place and character infuriating! You just get into one storyline for it to end and the narrative moves to another. But I agree that she is a wonderful writer.

  2. I only discovered Maggie's books in the past few years. Once I started, I read everything. Can't wait to read this one too.