This Must Be The Place is the seventh novel by Irish author Maggie O’Farrell. Her novels are renown for their delicate exploration of relationships, whether it be familial or romantic, and her elegant prose adds more to the charm, making her novels well-loved by readers.
Unfortunately, I have been living under a rock — I have never read a Maggie O’Farrell novel before this one. The big initial sell of This Must Be The Place for me was that it involved travelling, and I was only too happy to delve into a book that contains my other favourite activity. The fascinating premise supplemented my interest: it purports to be a book that “crosses continents and time zones [..]” and “at its heart, [..] an extraordinary portrait of a marriage, the forces that hold it together, and the pressures that drive it apart.”
The primary characters are Daniel Sullivan, an American linguistics living in a remote corner of Donegal, Ireland, and his wife, Claudette Wells, a famous ex-actress who had disappeared from the public eye at the height of her popularity, and is since determined to live a hermitic life with her children. The novel details their present lives, their lives in their youth before they met, how their marriage came to be, and the challenge of keeping it together compounded by past history and personal demons.