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This Must be the Place : Shortlisted for the Costa Award 2016 - Maggie O'Farrell

This Must be the Place

Shortlisted for the Costa Award 2016

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A spellbinding story of a man's attempt to unlock the mystery of what became of the woman he loved half a life-time ago.

The dazzling new novel from bestselling, award-winning author 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? This Must Be The Place crosses continents and time zones, giving voice to a diverse and complex cast of characters. At its heart, it is an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together and the pressures that drive it apart.

Maggie O'Farrell's seventh novel is a dazzling, intimate epic about who we leave behind and who we become as we search for our place in the world.

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.

Review by Caroline Baum

I was outside Maggie O'Farrell's house in London listening to the car radio, having just interviewed her, when strange news came through on the radio. It was about a plane that had crashed into the World Trade Centre. I remember this now because there are planes on the cover of her latest novel: her characters are very mobile in this tale of contemporary restlessness and searching.

At the heart of the novel are two impossible creatures: Claudette, a reclusive film star who has chosen to disappear from public life into a remote Irish valley, and her second husband Daniel, an American linguistics lecturer who is too charming for his own good and whose life is dissipated and littered with failures of one kind or another more by carelessness than by design. Both have redeeming qualities as well as being utterly infuriating. Friends and children move in and out of their orbit like passing satellites and the novel shifts backwards and forwards in time and place across a global canvas in a way that requires attention from the reader, which is no bad thing.

O'Farrell is a shrewd observer of marital tension and fraying relationships. She does displacement and disconnection with subtlety and insight, adding other sources of contemporary angst to the mix: the adoption of a Chinese orphan, the cult of celebrity, addiction, infertility all make appearances that add to the feeling of destabilisation and vulnerability. A rich cast of secondary characters who add their version of events to amplify and expand on the central portrait of a marriage is never distracting.

How O'Farrell keeps all the balls in the air and juggles her subplots is a thing of wonder and true mastery but that is a purely technical achievement. The bigger one is that she makes you genuinely care for people who feel utterly real as they stumble and mess up theirs and the lives of the people they love, as we all do. A very accomplished and satisfying book that lingers in the memory long after it's finished.


Another great read from Maggie Farrelly


Keen observations of relationships & families. Engaging characters.



This Must be the Place

4.0 1


This Must Be The Place is her best yet ... At the heart of this smart, structurally interesting but never over-clever novel is the story of a relationship ... If she was a man she'd be Man Booker-shortlisted, as it is she'll have to settle for just being brilliant * The Pool * A conjuror's sleight of hand... a deft and compelling chronicler of human relationships * Guardian * In the final pages, however, we are allowed to slow right down, to savour the culmination of everything that has come before, and to remember just how gifted a storyteller O'Farrell truly is * Irish Independent * O'Farrell's seventh novel is as captivating and as intricately written as her previous offerings * Closer * Fans will not be disappointed * The Times * No character is wasted, no word misspent... The reach is dazzlingly epic, the tone addictively accessible. In awe. * Grazia * Deftly blurring the lines between holiday read and literary fiction, it's bound for the bestseller lists * Stylist * One of the most enjoyable and satisfying books of the year * Daily Express * A complex, riveting novel of love and hope that grips at the heart... It will leave you bereft and wanting more * Sunday Times * Exquisite... exceptionally accomplished and emotionally sophisticated'... 'O'Farrell is tremendously sure-footed at wrong-footing the reader * Scotsman * Her best so far... epic but intimate too * Glamour * The result is dazzling, her most accomplished book yet * The National * She has, throughout her career, shown a willingness to experiment with form that many commercially successful writers wouldn't dare to do, as well as a willingness to explore difficult subject matter... epic and intimate * Herald * Maggie O'Farrell's new novel is beautiful... [an] epic endeavour to build a portrait of a relationship in its whole, contrary and complex plurality... the reader is won over, and rapt * i Newspaper * Some books are for lingering over. Every sentence Maggie O'Farrell writes is so perfectly formed that you want to wallow in it. As a writer, she's perceptive, warm and particularly good at the nuances of family relationships. In This Must Be The Place, she casts her sharp but humane eye on a marriage in trouble * Good Housekeeping * I haven't read a Maggie O'Farrell novel I didn't love and This Must Be The Place might be her finest work yet... A beautiful, ambitious triumph * Red Magazine * A new Maggie O'Farrell book is always a cause for celebration, but her seventh is so brilliant that you'll want to unfurl flags and put up bunting in her honour... Wonderfully written and absolutely addictive * Psychologies Magazine * For all that it whizzed about across times zones and continents, it is seamless and each character is fantastic at the next * Metro * There is tragedy in the novel, but also sharp comedy, and O'Farrell, skilful as ever, plays with the novel form... In this rewarding and humane novel, O'Farrell brings alive the destructive effects of petty betrayals that affect everyone every day * Sunday Express * A magnificent novel that is perceptive, profound and page-turning in equal measures. There are few things I look forward to like a Maggie O'Farrell novel and she never disappoints -- Cathy Rentzenbrink, author of The Last Act of Love Switching seamlessly between decades, destinations and voices, it's complex in scale, but is carried off with dazzling grace. A rich, engrossing feast of a novel to lose yourself in * Sunday Mirror * Beautifully executed; a graceful, insightful exploration of a relationship in all its wonders and woes * Mail on Sunday * Inventive, moving and hilarious. I loved it -- Rachel Joyce A symphony of stories and voices... absolutely gripping... A rare talent to enthral... It will leave you bereft and wanting more * Sunday Times * A tour de force, a complex and nuanced story leaping effortlessly across multiple time frames... THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is that rare literary beast, both technically dazzling and deeply moving. It has all the structural and temporal playfulness of a Kate Atkinson novel while retaining the hallmark emotional insight for which O'Farrell has become renowned. It is her best novel to date, a book that surely confirms her as one of the UK's most assured, accomplished and inventive storytellers * Observer *

ISBN: 9780755358830
ISBN-10: 075535883X
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 496
Published: 31st May 2016
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.3  x 3.6
Weight (kg): 0.65
Edition Number: 1