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To be honest right up front, I am dizzy with envy for Maggie O’Farrell’s talent. She writes so beautifully I have to re-read sentences and paragraphs almost until they have no meaning; just studying the words she uses. This Must Be The Place, her latest novel, is lovely and complicated and sad and funny. The center of this story is Daniel Sullivan, an American man on his second marriage to a reclusive ex-movie star named Claudette, living in rural Ireland.

 

 

They have two children together, but Daniel also has two children in the US from a previous marriage whom he never sees. On a solo trip home to see his ninety-year-old father, Daniel spontaneously decides to try to see his first children, and then embarks on a quest to solve a mystery from his youth, which unravels his marriage and his life.

 

That synopsis covers about one tenth of the actual story here, and the characters I’ve described are about a third of those in the book. The story skips around in time, in point of view, and on continents and still manages to make complete sense. O’Farrell never cuts corners on character – even minor-seeming people in the story have their day in the sun and she in entirely unafraid to mark them with deep flaws, but I somehow loved all of them anyway. This book is beautiful and fun to read and it drew me in so deep I wanted to live in it.

 

Grade – A