Jo’s Pick of the Week: This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

maggieofarrellthismustbetheplaceNew Yorker Daniel Sullivan is on a quest to find his grandfather’s ashes that were left behind in Ireland when he meets Claudette, who will become the love of his life. He soon realizes that she is no ordinary woman.

The eccentric, beautiful Claudette is hiding from her past in this remote part of the country with her young son. In her previous life, she was an Academy Award-winning movie star and director who disappeared at the height of her career. Daniel and Claudette build a happy life together at the old Irish hunting lodge that Claudette made into her permanent hiding place, and add two more children to the family. But one day Daniel hears a familiar voice on the radio that belonged to a young woman he had dated in college. When he finds out she died, he becomes obsessed to find out what had happened to her.

This Must Be the Place is told from various narrators at different points of time in the story. The reader learns the back stories of the empathetic characters, including Daniel and Claudette, their children and Daniel’s two other children from his failed first marriage. The reader slowly finds out why Claudette left her successful career in Hollywood, and why Daniel is haunted by the death of an old girlfriend. At times hilarious and other times heartbreaking, Maggie O’Farrell weaves a spellbinding novel about how memories from the past can threaten to destroy happiness. Highly recommended.

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