'Let's start at the very beginning' was how Maggie O'Farrell launched into reading her first chapter of her latest novel titled, This Must Be The Place at Blackwell's on Thursday evening. Laughter and keen interest continued from that point on for well over an hour before her book signing. Such is the commanding presence of Maggie O'Farrell that Sarah Franklin, Senior Lecturer in Publishing at Oxford Brookes University, who lead the discussion, commented on the sudden silence from the audience. This gathering was eager to listen to Maggie give an insight into her latest novel. Her delivery was honest, sincere, entertaining and educational for budding authors, book club fans and newcomers to her stories.
The cover design suggests (as does Maggie) that this latest novel is 'large on geography' with many references to travel and a physically weighty read, much bigger in volume than her previous novels. This book will make your heart and inner voice engage emotionally with the characters and reflect upon their dilemmas. The depth in which each member of this family tree is connected by Daniel Sullivan, American linguist and Claudette, a reclusive actor, will take you on a journey through time and place. With a complexity of relationships, and even an auction catalogue and footnotes at one point, this brilliant seventh novel will be your best friend and not leave your side until you have finished it.
'What do our possessions tell about us?' - hopefully in the coming summer months this book in hardback, soft cover or Kindle will be in your possession. This book has changed the way I think about language. Its masterful delivery will be a continuous learning tool for me on how to write engaging descriptions and to really appreciate the wealth of words.
Maggie was very generous with her time and her life story, relaying events that triggered essential elements of her captivating work. When asked about a writing routine Maggie talked honestly about being inventive with writing and the daily family life that is such an integral part of the process. This 'generous' story even uses the clever device of sharing a secret between the reader and the narrator before the characters are even aware of it. There are levels of redemption in this story and the amazing effect that children have on parenting and vice versa, which is bound to promote further discussion in reading circles. When an audience member mentioned the title being a Talking Heads song, Maggie said that it was coincidental. However, she might be onto something if the band and she ever collaborate on the film. We live in hope.