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May book club - This Must Be the Place

(71 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 02-May-17 11:11:57

Copies of this should be landing on the doormats of the 50 winners very shortly. If you don't get one, why not buy or borrow a copy and join the conversation? More about the book here.

If you do get a free copy, don't forget you will need to add your thoughts and/or questions for Maggie O'Farrell on this thread before the end of May

Pittcity Mon 22-May-17 21:51:25

I'm glad I'm not the only one Ladygracie. I am persisting but I am finding it hard going with all the jumping in time and person.

nora55 Wed 24-May-17 10:08:05

I absolutely loved this book. I love the way the characters and their stories are woven together and have already recommended to all my friends! I would like to ask Maggie whether the eczema storyline was based on her own experiences with her daughter (I read about this in an interview in the paper a while back) I'm assuming so - and if this is the case was it more painful or cathartic to commit to paper in the novel?

rocketstop Wed 24-May-17 10:18:59

I have loved all Maggie's previous books but I'm afraid I just could not get on with this one. I understand that as an author you must sometimes have a change of style, so maybe this will appeal more to people who have never read any of Maggie's previous books.
On a good note, I loved the description of the reclusive star, and could see her hiding out in plain sight etc, but I didn't feel empathy for the characters the way I usually do .

NanSue Wed 24-May-17 16:59:29

This book unfortunately was not for me. I started it and was so disheartened that I left it and then had another go almost a week later. However it didn't get any better. The characters were very well described and it was easy to conjure up a clear picture of them but the story seemed very disjointed and I didn't like the way it jumped around.

Buddie Wed 24-May-17 17:04:53

I have to say I struggled with this book with the constant changing of time or character. Like many people, I suspect, I tend to do my reading in bed at the end of the day and generally read several chapters of a book at a time but found I was only reading one as I was held back each time trying to work out how it fitted into the story so far.
My question for Maggie O'Farrell is this. The idea of showing Claudette's backstory via an auction catalogue was great in principle and an original idea but I wonder if she is happy with how it appeared in print. I found the text unclear and the illustrations very difficult to decipher even when looked at again in daylight.

Rinouchka Wed 24-May-17 17:09:31

I have not read any of Maggie O'Farrell's previous novels so I came to "This must be the place" with no expectations. Although it took me a while to get into the noveI, I found the characters convincing and I loved their flawed complexity from Daniel to Claudette to their children and families. I particularly loved Daniel and, as a linguist myself, his thought processes were recognisably like mine at times. With a similar family background to Claudette, I also recognised elements of her life, notably the perfect Parisian mother! The descriptive passages certainly captured the time and place depicted. However, I did find that the "architectural" aspect of the novel's structure sometimes confusing . Aspects seem to overcomplicate and over-populate the "building" of the novel. Did we need to know about the adoption of a Chinese baby by Lucas and his wife, for instance? Did we need to meet and learn about Rosalind? I understand why the authour did this, but am not sure that it was necessary for the cohesion of the story of Daniel and Claudette. Less is more at times, as the Parisian mother-in-law might have suggested.

All things considered, however, a clever and captivating novel with memorable characters and beautiful depictions of places and times both in physical and spiritual aspects. Thank you for introducing me to Maggie O'Farrell. I many well be one of the very few readers who, despite having heard of her, never read her work because I didn't think it would appeal. But appeal this novel certainly did!

Galen Wed 24-May-17 17:43:17

Couldn't get into it!

moleswife Wed 24-May-17 19:13:57

I'm really looking forward to getting into this book, especially as others seem to have struggled with it. I was lucky enough to get the previous book and have only just finished it (I'm a slow reader because I invariably fall asleep reading it and have to re-read large parts the next night!)
Thank you so much for the opportunity to get these books - I've enjoyed books that I would never have chosen off the book shop shelves - long may it last!

Rinouchka Wed 24-May-17 21:27:40

Please excuse the superfluous "that" and "many" should be "may" in the final sentence.

daffers Wed 24-May-17 21:44:13

Since 2002 I have kept a record on my computer of books I've read giving the author, title, date read and marks out of 10. I see I have read 4 of Maggie O’Farrell books giving them 5/10 to 7/10
I’m afraid this one will only get 5/10. It took me a long time to get into it and I had to constantly recap. Got confused with the characters and didn’t always find them believable.

cornergran Thu 25-May-17 00:12:44

This isn't a book to dip in and out of. I struggled with it until I had a period of quiet when I could read for a sustained period. I'm not saying I understood at times, but generally I was better able to hold the pieces of the character and story jigsaws together in my head. I really wanted to appreciate this book but for me the
time jumps were confusing and I often had to remind myself or the origin of a character or their part in the story. I am sad to say I could only give it 7/10 for enjoyment. I will read more by this author just to see if I can get the hang of her writing style. I suspect my struggles say more about me than they do about the author.

inishowen Thu 25-May-17 06:41:31

I loved the book, and think Maggie O'Farrell is a brilliant story teller. I have now passed it on to my sister in law, who says she's enjoying it too. I'd like to ask Maggie if she's working on a new book, and if so, when can we expect it.

Mapleleaf Thu 25-May-17 07:30:01

It took me a while to get used to the style, with all the time jumps, but I think it was very cleverly put together. I enjoyed it very much once I'd adjusted to the different time spans. I agree with another poster who felt the story was more about Daniel than Claudette, and of his life battles. Some readers felt that the character Rosalind was a bit superfluous, but to me, she was another cog in helping Daniel to move forward with his life and help him realise, in part, what he needed to do to sort things out.
I want to ask Maggie if she has any plans to develop the character of Rosalind in another story at some point, because I think she has a very interesting story of her own to tell. To me, she is there almost as a carrot to dangle to the reader - "will she, won't she have her own story to tell?" I rather hope so!
I'm so glad I persevered with this book, and I will look out for more of Maggie's books.

Grannynise Thu 25-May-17 09:08:34

The caferul and considered review I posted yesterday evening seems to have disappeared .... second attempt.

Second or even fourth attempt is what it took to get into the book. The time swaps didn't help (this seems to be a very popular device at the moment) and I'm not entirely clear what the confused chronology was supposed to achieve. I was driven to make notes to keep track. As others have said, I read in the evening before I go to sleep - maybe that added to my confusion.

I thought her previous books made for more compelling reading.

nonnanna Thu 25-May-17 09:55:49

I have enjoyed the storytelling in this book. There are great descriptions and strong characters. Like other Gransnetters, I found the jumps around in time very difficult to follow and this didn't make me want to carry on reading at the expense of leaving the gardening and housework, like a good book usually does. It has taken me a long time to read through as far as half-way. I will persevere and finish the story but I do feel that it's hard work and would have prefered to read it in chronological order, looking forward to what might happen next. It has affected my thoughts about recommending 'This Must be the Place' to anyone. I'd like to ask Maggie what influenced her decision to write in this style.

Nonny Thu 25-May-17 11:36:59

Thank you for the book "This must be the place" by Maggie O'Farrell. I have enjoyed several of her books in the past. I felt that the book took rather a long time to get started but once into it I enjoyed the various twists and turns.It was skillfully written.

craftygran Thu 25-May-17 11:43:04

Mine has arrived, I've started it but am finding it heavy going. It jumps around too much and I found I was losing g the thread of what was happening. I have given up but will pick it up again in a couple of days and give it another go.

welshmaiden Thu 25-May-17 15:23:12

Mine arrived a while ago but it has taken me this long to get through it. I must agree with other readers that the book jumps around too much and I couldn't keep up with the changes, having to keep going back to work out who was who and where they fitted into the story.
The actual storyline was good and I enjoyed that aspect but why do so many authors today use this technique of jumping about!

janiceanne Thu 25-May-17 23:31:33

Thank you for a copy of Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel. I have enjoyed many of her previous books and believe 'This Must Be the Place' to be her best so far. An exceptionally epic rich story packed full with fabulous characters. A joy to read.

Greenfinch Fri 26-May-17 08:32:33

I really enjoyed this book once I had got into it.I was interested in all the characters and especially the dynamics of the extended family and how they all looked out for each other. It was often like reading a short story within a novel and all the different geographical settings enhanced the atmosphere especially Donegal .I would like to know more about Zhilan ,Rosalind, Sophie and Daniel's Mum.The only character I disliked was Nicola Janks probably because of the unnecessary abortion. The ending was a bit abrupt and so I am looking for a sequel hopefully

wallers5 Fri 26-May-17 09:04:56

Firstly I dont like time changes. It seems that all modern books do this nowadays. Living in the wilds of Ireland appealed.But are the characters real. Interesting take on the pressures that drive us apart. She is certainly a skilful author. Full of emotion. Not really for me though, sadly.

weather Fri 26-May-17 11:19:55

I am still reading this book but felt I had to write and say how much I am enjoying it....It is an amusing and a really interesting story.
I had to smile at the account about the ashes as a similar thing happened to me. (I know some people may find this inappropriate and may find it upsetting so please its not meant to be disrespectful in any way)
When my father died I asked for his ashes to be scattered at the crematorium but at least 7 years later I had a phone call from the undertakers asking what I would like done with them !!!!!
I said as my mum was very poorly we would wait and I could scatter them together. I was told not worry he's fine down there on the shelf with his mates, it turned a very sad thought into a smile !!!
I now have them both here and on occasions find myself saying the odd sentence to them.
So back to the book...
I am enjoying it and hope to finish it over the next couple of days but from what I have read so far I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read that would keep you turning the pages to find out just what is going to happen next.
Thank you so much for the free copy and to Maggie, the author, for all the time and effort you put into writing such an escape into a fictional world.

GeminiJen Fri 26-May-17 16:49:42

This is my first Maggie O’Farrell novel but it won’t be my last. Thank you, Gransnet, for introducing me to her work. Right from the introduction, I was hooked: "There is a man..........There is a man and the man is me." What a great way to start a novel: so simple, yet so precise.
For those who like their stories delivered in linear fashion, the structure of the novel may be off putting, as some have already commented. So many characters, so many countries, so many time zones. The first chapter is set in Donegal, 2010, the next in London, 1989, later Brooklyn, 1944. The characterisations are excellent. Daniel certainly has his faults but he remains a sympathetic figure for the most part. Claudette is a little more elusive perhaps, although never less than fascinating. There is a wide cast of supporting characters who are all memorable and convincingly drawn. I did start to feel as if I should be taking notes. I would just get used to one character and then the next chapter would be from another character’s point of view but as the story built I went with it and found that for me it worked, incredibly well.
To Maggie, my thanks for a good read flowers
I have two questions:
1.Did your toddler’s destruction of your post its have any impact on the final structure of the novel?
2.Why introduce the incidental character of Rosalind so late in the day? I read her as a sort of soothsayer, whose only task is to tell Daniel some home truths and provide a clear and impartial view. If that is the case, why the need for the detailed backstory?

moxeyns Sat 27-May-17 11:26:02

I loved this. It was a disjointed, fractured, ugly paen about love in many different forms; beautifully observed. Time after time I wept, or laughed, or shook my head in recognition. I have no recollection of the storyline, its time-hopping and many characters too complex a thread - but I will carry some of the vignettes in my head for a long time.

middleagespread Sat 27-May-17 17:08:30

This must be the Place is definitely not a bedtime read. The frequent changes of location and time warps a challenge. Daniel's journey is compelling, his relationship with Niall is the one storyline that made me hang in on in there until the end. I found it rather disjointed and hard to follow in places and Claudette a rather Hollywood character with few redeeming features. However, the tale is well told, full of rich language. I travelled from Donegal to California and many places between and struggled to keep up with the terms of the relationship between Daniel and Claudette. When the story drew to a close I breathed a sigh of relief. It pushed the boundaries with auction catalogues including correspondence but whether these enhanced the story or should have been left on a storyboard for reference I'm not sure.Would I read Maggie O'Farrell again? Yes I would.