Walking into Maggie O’Farrell’s sold out event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, it is clear that she certainly has a voice in her books that speaks well to the female reader. Promoting both This Must Be The Place, which came out last year and her newly published memoir, I Am I Am I Am, O’Farrell spoke with Financial Times journalist Hannah Beckerman, as although the event was meant to focus on the novel, there was a real stir about this biography from extracts and reviews in the mainstream publications, and now it’s present number one spot.
Focussing first on This Must Be The Place, she reads an extract from this acclaimed title, and discusses further the themes of this book, and where she took her inspiration from. Spotting an A-list celebrity in a café in London, she pondered over what it must be like to have to live in those shoes, never being able to be anonymous in the crowd, always a beacon for the general public, and mentioned that she considered faking her own disappearance (if that were her), and so was the premise for this novel. She also mentioned that Niall, who is central to the novel, has a chronic eczema, which is metaphorical for everyone else in the book, as they all find their skin unliveable.
I Am I Am I Am, which considers her seventeen near death experiences is touched upon, as it is the hot new publication and when asked by Beckerman what caused her to write and publish this particular memoir she informed us that it was to make her daughter feel less alienated, who suffers from eczema along with many other allergies, and immunodeficiency. As it delves into some pretty dreadful situations in which, includes a childhood illness, encephalitis, which she was told she would never recover from, and an ill-advised leap off a harbour, it’s set to be a life affirming electric story that makes us consider mortality and how we simply have to deal with these near brushes to continue on, all experiences that make us human.
A charming, honest and open talk about something Maggie herself never thought she would ever publish, this Edinburgh International Book Festival event was not to be missed.
For more on the Edinburgh International Book Festival click here.