STARRED REVIEW
July 2016

The complex web of a life’s relationships

By Kate Racculia
With seven books to her credit, based on the law of averages alone you might think that Irish author Maggie O’Farrell would be due to deliver a dud. On the contrary: Her latest novel proves that practice really does make perfect. This Must Be the Place may be her best work to date.
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With seven books to her credit, based on the law of averages alone you might think that Irish author Maggie O’Farrell would be due to deliver a dud. On the contrary: Her latest novel proves that practice really does make perfect. This Must Be the Place may be her best work to date.

O’Farrell returns to the topics that have become her literary bread and butter over the years: love, loss and the things that make—and break—a family. Daniel Sullivan has more than a passing familiarity with all three of these things. We first meet Daniel in 2015, living with his two young children and his reclusive wife on a remote patch of land in Ireland. However, as subsequent chapters jump between past and present, as well as other characters’ perspectives, the complex web of relationships and choices that have brought Daniel to this place and continue to shape his life are slowly illuminated. The result is an intricate and emotional jigsaw puzzle whose pieces interlock in immensely satisfying—and startling—ways.

Nimbly bounding though time and space, the narrative unfolds with a cinematic quality, and O’Farrell’s prose manages to be both intimate and expansive in its tone and keenly perceptive in its insights on the complexities of marriage. Beautiful and bittersweet, This Must Be the Place will make O’Farrell’s longtime fans swoon while prompting new readers to wonder why they’ve only just discovered her.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2016 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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This Must Be the Place

This Must Be the Place

By Kate Racculia
Holt
ISBN 9780805092301

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