This Must Be the Place discussion questions

1. For her epigraph, O’Farrell chose this excerpt from the Louis MacNeice poem “Snow”:

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural.

What does this mean to you? Why do you think she chose these lines to frame her novel?

(Click here to read the poem in its entirety.)

2. O’Farrell’s chapter titles are unusual. Did you notice this as you read? Did they affect the way you approached the story? If so, how?

3. O’Farrell tells her story through the eyes of more than a dozen characters, over the course of decades. How does each character’s perspective contribute to the story? How does the novel’s structure change the way you understand what’s happening?

4. Some of these perspectives are quite unusual. What does O’Farrell accomplish by including the London Courier interview? The auction catalogue?

5. What event sets the plot in motion? Did you find it believable that something that happened twenty-five(ish) years ago could have such an impact on the present day? Have you experienced such a thing in your own life?

6. Almost every character suffers from some sort of disability—eczema, stuttering, anorexia, and more. What are these things? Are they symbols as well? Of what?

7. Rosalind’s chapter (“Always to Be Losing Things”) feels qualitatively different from the rest. What sets this one apart? What does Rosalind’s story add to the novel?

8. Rosalind shares a theory with Daniel: that “marriages end not because of something you did say but because of something you didn’t.” How does this conversation affect Daniel? What did Daniel leave unsaid? Do you believe he can fix it? Do we see this theme of “things unsaid” elsewhere in the story? (Do you believe Rosalind’s theory is correct?)

9. What does the title mean to you?


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