This Must Be the Place
By Maggie O'Farrell, and and,
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?Tweet
Our October monthly read was “This must be the place,” by Maggie O'Farrell. For some, she was a familiar author, for others, she was a new experience. The book deals with the relationship between Claudette and her husband, Daniel. They both have separate histories which impact on their marriage once Daniel learns of a worrying fact about a past love.
The structure of the book hops around different characters and time frames, leaving you to piece together the story and characters. Different techniques were employed to illustrate certain episodes, for instance, Claudette's life as a famous film star is detailed in one chapter in the form of an auction catalogue listing memorabilia items. This time hop format is a bit of a Marmite feature, we find.
Whilst we all enjoyed the book and rated it 7 or 8 out of 10, it was generally felt that the book was overly long. Regarding some of the characters introduced with back stories, for instance Rosalind, it was felt that, whereas the role of the character was significant to the plot, the back story wasn't. Similarly, Daniel's mother's secret unrequited love, again it was felt this just served to lengthen the story.
Expecting a typical O'Farrell twist at the end of the book, it was disappointing not to have one in this work. Another comment was that the last 50 pages or so turned things a bit slushy, and therefore disappointing.
To sum up: good, enjoyable book, well written, good characterisation (we all loved the children), but longer than needed and a little weak at the end.
Her husband daniel is healing froma recovery and he saw the same women he saw 20 yr ago... What will happen next
"A fascinating book about so much – relationships and trust, the breakdown of marriages and the effect on the children, parents and childlessness, lost loves…and how thoughtless acts can have such repercussions. Yet it’s not a doom and gloom book, there’s a lot of humour, and likeable quirky characters. I liked the insight that came from chapters being written from the perspective of different characters."
"I got caught up in the characterisation and the depiction of grief, loneliness, celebrity, finding a place. The book drew me in and examined the intensity of personal relationships and paths taken. I liked the title; I liked the journey through the landscape and the description of those places. It was very satisfying and questioning and the people were real and beautifully portrayed. I wanted to pick it up and read it in one sitting."
"I loved this book. Its characters are flawed, make bad decisions and act on impulse but I felt very attached to all of them. It’s elegantly written and jumps effortlessly between different decades, countries and narrative viewpoints. It’s very perceptive and honest about the messiness of extended families and long term relationships, but also really insightful about identity, memory and how decisions we made in the past have a habit of coming back to bite us. I’ll definitely be reading more from Maggie O’Farrell and recommending her work to others."
I loved this book, such a good sense of place, in-depth characters and such breadth.