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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > July 2016 > PLACES IN TIME


Personal relationships are at the heart of all Maggie O’Farrell’s novels and the Northern Irish novelist’s own family is her muse, she tells Tina Jackson

It’s no surprise that prize-winning and bestselling novelist Maggie O’Farrell, that subtle chronicler of her characters’ circumstances, has an intuitive way of writing.

Northern Irish author Maggie’s new book, This Must Be the Place, is a wideranging sprawl of a tale that moves through different times and locations across the world to tell in various voices the complex, involving story of the relationship between American academic Daniel and reclusive film star Claudette.

‘The book is sort of about their marriage and why they can’t be together,’ says Maggie. ‘I knew I wanted to write a big, wide-canvas novel with a large number of different views.’ Having settled the middle of her three children, off school with a bug, with an audiobook on the sofa in her home in Edinburgh, she is warm, friendly, and talks fast.

‘I didn’t know if I could do it but I wanted to try. I knew I wanted it to be huge – it almost covers most of Daniel’s life and beyond and a life isn’t a simple thing. It’s incredibly complicated, you have experiences in childhood that resonate. I don’t think one person can tell that story. I wanted to write a book that had a polyphony of voices.’

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