“Beautifully executed; a graceful, insightful exploration of a relationship in all its wonders and woes.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
Once in a while a book comes along that leaves you breathless, that takes your world, shakes it up and leaves it spinning on a different axis. This Must Be The place is one such book.
Daniel Sullivan is a native New Yorker now living in the wilds of Donegal in north-west Ireland with his reclusive wife Claudette and their two children. Daniel is a linguistics professor, which is ironic as he often has trouble finding the right words when he needs them.
I loved Daniel, even though he trips and falls, crashing along making decisions that are never going to work; his heart is such a good one, he just cannot see the far-reaching effects his decisions have on the people he loves…and then fate lends a hand.
Claudette is a famous film star and director who has run away from her former life and been living under the radar ever since. She comes across as ballsy and domineering, she is extremely strong-willed but at the same time incredibly vulnerable.
When Daniel makes a trip back to New York for his father’s 90th birthday he takes another journey which endangers his whole marriage.
Although at the heart of the book is Daniel and his marriage to Claudette, the chapters are told from many different points of view. Some of them are vignettes: short stories in themselves. But how gloriously coloured they are, how in-depth the lives of these secondary characters. Maggie O’Farrell shows how everyone has a story no matter how fleeting their appearance.
If you like your books told in linear fashion, this may not be for you as the chapters bounce around through time and place with glorious abandon. One chapter you’re in New York 2010, the next L.A. 1994, so many characters, so many countries, so many time zones. But it works, it works so incredibly well.
The writing is beautiful but it is Maggie O’Farrell’s gift for storytelling that takes the book to the sublime. Her weaving in of different strands of a tale is effortless. The insight into the characters and their converging relationships is phenomenal. I cannot imagine anything beating this book for book of the year. Maggie O’Farrell is a treasure who just keeps getting better and better.
Added 29th May 2016