This Must be the Place – Maggie O’Farrell

Published by Tinder Press

ebook and Hardcover : 17 May 2016
Paperback: 18 May 2017

The dazzling new novel from Sunday Times bestseller and Costa Novel Award-winner Maggie O’Farrell, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage.

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?

I’ve read and enjoyed other books by Maggie O’Farrell (previously my favourite being ‘The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox’) but This Must be the Place is something rather special. It might be a little discombobulating at first to be taken across different decades and continents within just a few pages but even though the characters and timelines seem random, there is a structure bonding the story together, like invisible glue, so that even though you may be in 1989 in one chapter and then in 2010 the next, the story and chapters flow effortlessly and connect together. And then of course there is Maggie O’Farrell’s writing. No waffly or unnecessary words – just beautiful, succinct and carefully worded prose that you read and can immediately understand and think “yes I get that”. 

The characters of both Daniel and Claudette may well make you want to shake them at times. To say to them, “just damn well talk to each other” but it’s their flaws and their complex characters which make them just so believable. Daniel, the linguistics expert who so often throughout his life seems to press the self-destruct button. He understands the complexities of language but cannot find the right words to say at the right time which leads to missed opportunities and misunderstandings. Then there is his wife Claudette, the reclusive former film star. She is fiercely protective of her privacy to the point of paranoia and hides her vulnerability behind her stubborn exterior. There are many other connecting characters, some family members, others complete strangers (one of my favourite quotes in the book comes from Rosalind, a character who was just ‘passing through’ but one that I would like to have heard more from), but all have their own stories and heartbreaks which impact on Daniel and Claudette’s lives.

I really don’t want to go into any detail about the story and the book description will give you the outline, it is one that you need to read and discover for yourself whilst immersing yourself in the beauty of this author’s writing. I was completely captivated and intrigued by the epic journey made by these characters; there is both tragedy and humour; This Must be the Place will undoubtedly be on the list for my top books of the year.

Not only was I fortunate enough to be sent an advance copy but it was an absolute delight to be at Waterstones Piccadilly recently to hear Maggie O’Farrell talk about the book with author Sam Baker. I also had the opportunity to buy the hardback (which is truly a book of beauty) and have it signed. It now sits on my keepers shelf along with my gorgeous proof copy which Maggie O’Farrell also signed for me.

My thanks to Georgina and the publisher Tinder Press for the advance proof copy (and with apologies for the delayed review!)

Sam Baker & Maggie O’Farrell


About the author:

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, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, and This Must be the Place. She lives in Edinburgh.

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4 Comments

  1. 1st June 2016 / 6:37 pm

    This IS indeed such an excellent read, tight writing and an interesting storyline. Some great observations, thank you for the lovely review.

    • 2nd June 2016 / 8:00 pm

      Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed the book as much as I did 🙂

  2. 1st June 2016 / 8:10 pm

    This is on my wishlist, and my birthday is coming up, so fingers crossed I'll be reading it soon. Thank you for not spoiling anything about the plot, leaving me to explore it by myself, and just writing a positive review.

    • 2nd June 2016 / 8:01 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Hemmie, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you too – it really isn't one to be missed.

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