Wednesday 18 May 2016

Review ~ This Must Be The Place by Maggie O'Farrell

Tinder Press
17 May 2016

This is one of those books which sits quietly, but confidently, on your book shelf and even after you have read it, and believe me this one is a keeper, you would still be able to pick up the book, open it at random and read something which is just so beautifully contrived that it makes your heart sing. I've long been a fan of this talented author's writing and never once have I picked up one of her stories and been disappointed, my only low point, like all fans, is the wait between books.

Linguist specialist, Daniel Sullivan is a complex character, made up of a myriad of emotions and with enough emotional baggage to sink a battleship and yet, the story of his life and that of his relationships, both with past and present lovers, and a disparate assortment of children, forms the basis of an acutely observed and intelligent look at Dan's life. Also, flitting through the story is that of Claudette, a gifted and talented actress who turns her back on the glitz and glamour of fame and fortune, and hides away in rural Ireland. Chasing away her demons and a failed relationship take up much of her energy, that is until she meets Dan Sullivan, who brings a glimmer of light into the darker recesses of her life.

This Must Be The Place looks at the minutiae of family life, and not in an over-exaggerated way which would suggest that this family is made up of anything but ordinary people, but what is extraordinary about their story, is their connection to each other, and of the way their lives overlap and coalesce with effortless ease. There are some beautifully observed moments which can make you laugh out loud one minute and then fill with tears another, and such is the emotional pull of the characters that, even though at times you want to scream at them, well, at one in particular, to get his act together, you know that in the final analysis, everyone, flawed though they are, will tiptoe their way into your heart, until they are as familiar, and as dear to you as friends.

When first you start to read the book it will appear a little confusing and jumping as it does between, not just people, but also times frames, can take a little concentration, but do stick with it, as even before you realise you’ve stopped pondering over where you are in the time scale, you will have settled into the story, and then as you continue to read on, time, both literal and current, will cease to exist.

This Must Be The Place is an intelligent and sensitive portrayal of family life, there’s not a word wasted, not an emotion unexpressed and certainly no superfluous waffle. It’s just a truly excellent read from start to finish and unusually, I can’t think of anything else to say, except,  if you see this it displayed in a bookstore near you, then, please take a copy home and give this wonderful story a cherished place on your book shelf.

Best Read With… A sturdy sandwich , the bread, absolutely homemade, and a cup of Claudette’s hot chocolate, made with her special French chocolate beans. 

Maggie O'Farrell

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My thanks to BookBridgr and Georgina Moore at Headline for my review copy of this one.


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