A top-ten bestseller, THIS MUST BE THE PLACE by Maggie O'Farrell crosses time zones and continents to reveal an extraordinary portrait of a marriage. 'A complex, riveting novel of love and hope that grips at the heart' The Sunday Times
A reclusive ex-film star living in the wilds of Ireland, Claudette Wells is a woman whose first instinct, when a stranger approaches her home, is to reach for her shotgun. Why is she so fiercely protective of her family, and what made her walk out of her cinematic career when she had the whole world at her feet?
Her husband Daniel, reeling from a discovery about a woman he last saw twenty years ago, is about to make an exit of his own. It is a journey that will send him off-course, far away from the life he and Claudette have made together. Will their love for one another be enough to bring Daniel back home?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Maggie O’Farrell has rarely created a character as enigmatic and fascinating as Claudette Wells: a global film star, wife and muse of a garlanded Swedish filmmaker. Notoriously hot-tempered, Claudette is the star of This Must be the Place…except she’s not really present. It’s her bizarre disappearance that drives this fascinating story, as O’Farrell lines up a series of varyingly trustworthy friends and lovers to pick apart Claudette’s vanishing act. O’Farrell’s humor and clever weaving together of narratives meant we were hungrily racing to discover Claudette’s fate.
O'Farrell (The Vainishing Act of Esme Lennox) spins a magical story in her new novel. On the surface, the story is about the unlikely meeting of Daniel, an American, and Claudette, a French-English former actress; the life they make together; the lives they lived before that. and their struggle to hold things together in the face of a secret from Daniel's past. But this description, though accurate, doesn't convey the depth of perception and detail. O'Farrell offers not just backstory, but surround-story, using first-, second- and third-person points of view to depict Daniel and Claudette's children, Daniel's mother, Claudette's brother and his wife, an ex-lover or two, a former friend, a bewildered assistant, and a woman Daniel meets by chance in the Bolivian high plains (who has her own story of betrayal). Across the present and the recent and more distant pasts, in Donegal, Ireland; Brooklyn; London; Sussex, England; and points south and east, relationships start, end, and last. There is enough possibility and randomness for three books, yet the story never feels overstuffed, and when it ends, the reader is stunned and grateful, relieved that in the face of all that can go (and have gone) wrong, some things have come right.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The protagonist created by this celebrated Irish author is a divorced American male academic with a history of substance abuse. He's roaming around the Emerald Isle in search of existential comfort after the death of a beloved grandfather. A chance encounter with a woman on a deserted country road leads to a second marriage and a new family. She is a reclusive ex-film star with considerable baggage of her own. As a result, we get a detailed portrait of a complex marriage as both partners confront demons from the past. Unsurprisingly, neither comes out smelling of roses and their offspring has issues too. The prose is first rate and the well-drawn characters, though far from sympathetic at times, command interest to the end, which is lucky because this otherwise excellent novel does drag a little in its later stages.