This is the third book by Maggie O'Farrell I have read. I find her writing absolutely captivating. Despite the fact that this story had a much more satisfying ending (i.e., less dark), I don't think it will leave a very lasting impression me. I sobbed when I read After You'd Gone, and I was positively disturbed after reading The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. These are both much stronger emotions that just feeling warm and satisfied. Yet as much as I try to categorize which of these three I like best, I can't. Each has its own unique merits to recommend it.
In The Distance Between Us, we meet Stella and Jake and, in typical Maggie O'Farrell fashion, we are also given their family histories. As Ms. O'Farrell slowly lays the story out for us, one absorbing layer after another, we learn of the tragic chain of events that caused the deep dark secret Stella keeps, which she has spent her whole life trying to run away from and which has left her feeling unworthy of happiness. And we acutely feel Jake's loneliness and sense of detachment as he desperately searches for something to connect him to the world around him.
If you're new to Ms. O'Farrell, be warned: you might find her style difficult to read at first. She jumps around a lot chronologically, without warning, and if you're not paying attention it's easy to get lost. But if you're like me, you become so engrossed in the story that you quickly learn to ignore it. At least this book did not change perspective - it was all told in the third person, which isn't always the case with her writing. And for this reason, I believe The Distance Between Us would probably be a good starter book if you've never read Maggie O'Farrell before.