The Patron Saint of Liars

By: Ann Patchett
1992
Fiction
Subject Matter: Unmarried mothers; Mothers and daughters; Nuns; Kentucky
Rating: 4/5

The Patron Saint of Liars

“A fairy tale. A delight.”

Not quite the words I would use, New York Times

Don’t get me wrong: this is a.good.book.

But fairytale? Not by a long shot.

This is a hard book. A very difficult book to read. It is hardly “happily ever after.”

What words would I use? Captivating. Raw. Compelling.

I’ve never read a book quite like it.

The Patron Saint of Liars has been on the shelves for a little while, and when I told a friend I had picked this one up, I got the idea that I’m a little behind the 8-ball on this one.

I’ve heard of Ann Patchett but couldn’t tell you a single book she’d written.

Until now. Now I know.

I think this book is probably written for late teen/young adult women. It is heavily centered on a female perspective. It covers marriage, pregnancy, mother/daughter relationships, puberty, wanderlust, friendship.

It’s told in three parts, through three very different eyes. And it’s difficult to say what the crux of this story is. But Rose has got to be the main character. Patchett starts out with her story for a reason. Rose is the knot that ties it all together, that makes the rest of it mean anything. She’s the center.

And Rose is a wildly intriguing character. She is one of those people who is magnetic and cool and beautiful but always distant. If you didn’t hear inside Rose’s head, she would probably be an unsympathetic character. But you get her, you want her to like you, even though you don’t quite know why. She’s far from perfect, far from friendly, far from black and white.

This is a story chock full of people consumed with the concept of love. Does he love me? Do I love him? Does she love me? How can I show my love? How can I shield my love?

It’s everywhere, even when it’s not. Especially when it’s not.

It’s a beautiful story. Haunting, even.

But a fairy tale?

No.

 

******

 

If you’re a fan of The Patron Saint of Liars, here are some suggestions:

(for unmarried mothers)

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen

(for more by Patchett)

Run by Ann Patchett

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett

Taft by Ann Patchett

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett

(for dissatisfactory families)

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

 

Coming up:

Ground Rules by Renee Swann

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