Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This Must Be the Place

Title:  This Must Be the Place
Author:  Maggie O'Farrell
Publication Information:  Knopf. 2016. 400 pages.
ISBN:  0385349424 / 978-0385349420

Book Source:  I received this book through the Penguin First to Read program free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "There is a man."

Favorite Quote:  "I have a theory ... that marriages end not because of something you did say but because of something you didn't."

Daniel. Claudette. Niall. Phoebe. Lenny. Marithe. Todd. Lucas. Teresa. Maeve. Ari. Nicola. Timou. Rosalind. Calvin.

Donegal, Ireland. London, England. San Francisco, California. Fremont, California. New York, New York. The Scottish Borders. Cambria, Sussex, England. Goa, India. Brooklyn, New York. Chengdu, China. Suffolk, England. Paris, France. Dlasland, Sweden. Bolivia. Belfast, Ireland.

1944. 1986. 1989. 1993. 1994. 1995. 1996. 1999. 2003. 2005. 2010. 2013. 2014. 2015. 2016.

These are the narrators, settings, and time of the intertwined narratives that comprise this story. At the center of the story is Daniel, a flawed, not always likable man. The book begins his story in 2010 in Ireland. It moves forward to 2016 while other narratives reach as far back as 1944 to paint a picture of Daniel's life. The narrators range from complete strangers to a parent, a wife, a friend, in-laws, and his children.

These are a lot of perspectives and time periods to keep straight. Occasionally, I find myself getting a little lost as to where I am in the story. The chapter subtitles are the only place the perspective, place, and time are identified. The chapters all have other titles which is what the table of contents includes. That makes it difficult to flip through the book to try and find a particular character or time to connect the dots of the story.

I also find myself wondering why some perspectives are included. The stories of these characters like Lucas, Maeve, Lenny, and Rosalind seem to stand apart from Daniel's story, and their perspectives seem not relevant to Daniel's story. Interestingly, because they stand apart from Daniel's story; these characters become the more memorable ones of the story. The rest seem to blend together.

Claudette's story is the one I find most fascinating. Here is an actress, who leaves behind fame and fortune to hide away in a remote corner of Ireland. Why? She meets Daniel, who manages to pierce through her defenses. How? I do wish her story was explored more, but, at the end of the day, this book is about Daniel and their marriage as it relates to Daniel.

Therein lies part of the issue. The central vision I have of Daniel is that he is a man who takes the expedient route and whose actions seem self-centered. That is not a setup for a sympathetic main character. However, all the different perspectives somewhat blur his character, so I am not even sure if my vision is even correct. Since the book is about him, I would like to understand, but even by the end, I don't feel like I know who he is.

All that being said, the writing of the book is beautiful. The individual chapters envelop me completely in the story and perspective being told in the chapter. I feel myself falling into the story, and then the chapter ends, and I am pulled away to a different person, time, and place. I wish I could have stayed longer with any given story within this story.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment