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The Patron Saint of Liars [Kindle Edition]

Ann Patchett
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (335 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Since her first publication in 1992, celebrated novelist Ann Patchett has crafted a number of elegant novels, garnering accolades and awards along the way. Now comes a beautiful reissue of the best-selling debut novel that launched her remarkable career.

St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, usually harbors its residents for only a little while. Not so Rose Clinton, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed, and stays. She plans to give up her child, thinking she cannot be the mother it needs. But when Cecilia is born, Rose makes a place for herself and her daughter amid St. Elizabeth's extended family of nuns and an ever-changing collection of pregnant teenage girls. Rose's past won't be kept away, though, even by St. Elizabeth's; she cannot remain untouched by what she has left behind, even as she cannot change who she has become in the leaving. 

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Unanticipated pregnancy makes liars out of young women, this thoughtful first novel shows, as they try to rationalize, explain, and accept what is happening to them. When she arrives at St. Elizabeth's, a home for pregnant girls in Habit, Kentucky, Rose Clinton seems as evasive and deceptive as the other unwed mothers. But Rose is different: she has a husband whom she has deserted. Unlike most St. Elizabeth's visitors, she neither gives up her baby nor leaves the home, staying on as cook while her daughter grows up among expectant mothers fantasizing that they, too, might keep their infants. The reader learns from Rose how she came to St. Elizabeth's, but it is her doting husband and rebellious daughter who reveal her motives and helpless need for freedom. Together, the three create a complex character study of a woman driven by forces she can neither understand nor control.
- Thomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale Lib.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Patchett's first novel, set in rural Kentucky in a castle-like home for unwed mothers--where a good woman finds she cannot lie her way beyond love--has a quiet summer-morning sensibility that reminds one of the early work of Anne Tyler. Within the security of everydayness, minds and hearts take grievous risks. ``Maybe I was born to lie,'' thinks Rose, who, after a three- year marriage to nice Tom Clinton, realizes that she's misread the sign from God pointing to the wedding: she married a man she didn't love. From San Diego, then, Rose drives--``nothing behind me and nothing ahead of me''--all the way to Kentucky and St. Elizabeth's home for unwed mothers, where she plans to have the baby Tom will never know about, and to give it clean away. But in the home, once a grand hotel, Rose keeps her baby, Cecilia; marries ``Son,'' the handyman (``God was right after all...I was supposed to live a small life with a man I didn't love''); and becomes the cook after briefly assisting that terrible cook, sage/seeress, and font of love, Sister Evangeline. The next narrative belongs to Son, a huge man originally from Tennessee--like Rose, gone forever from home- -who recounts the last moments of his fianc‚e's life long ago (Sister Evangeline absolves him of responsibility) and who loves Rose. The last narrator is teenaged Cecilia, struggling to find her elusive mother within the competent Rose, who's moved into her own house away from husband and daughter. Like Rose years before, her daughter considers the benefits of not knowing ``what was going on'' the recent visitor--small, sad Tom Clinton--drives off, and Cecilia knows that Rose, who left before he came, will never return. In an assured, warm, and graceful style, a moving novel that touches on the healing powers of chance sanctuaries of love and fancy in the acrid realities of living. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1314 KB
  • Print Length: 402 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 19, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004S7FB4G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,662 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
119 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars filled with pain, but full of grace April 19, 2005
"The Patron Saint of Liars" is the debut novel of author Ann Patchett. Patchett has also written the extraordinary "Bel Canto." This novel, originally published in 1992 was the announcement of a major new talent in literature. The story she tells is a simple one, but filled with grace and written with skill. In the 1960's, pregnant, Rose Clinton leaves her husband in California with nothing but a note saying that she is unhappy and that he should not try to find her. She has no intention of coming home. Her destination is in Kentucky: St. Elizabeth's home for unwed mothers. It is where women from all over go to give birth and give up their children. It is a Catholic home in a Baptist town. Rose does not believe that she can be a good mother to her child and that she shouldn't be a mother. Not now. Perhaps not ever.

The novel is told in three sections. The first section is told from the perspective of Rose. Through her eyes and with her words we learn about why she left California, how she ended up at St. Elizabeth's and what that experience was like. Patchett writes Rose so well that when her section ended I couldn't imagine that the next section of the novel could possibly be as good as what it was that I just read. Section two is told by Rose's husband. The final section of the novel is given to Rose's daughter. "The Patron Saint of Liars" is a remarkable novel. It is filled with insight into the characters and it seems at times also into our own lives. This isn't a story of faith, but it is also filled with a sense of grace and healing at all turns, even when the characters are facing personal difficulties.

With "Bel Canto" I knew that Ann Patchett was a talented author and I wanted to experience her other novels.
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76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Left me sad March 10, 2005
I am a new Patchett fan. I was blown away by Bel Canto, loved Taft, and am saving Magician's Assistant. But I found Patron Saint of Liars to be, ultimately, just too terribly sad and melancholy. And I saw no redemption in the story at all. Well written, sure but . . . what was the point? I felt like I was being told some kind of parable that I failed to see the point of. Okay, WARNING: READ NO FURTHER IF YOU DON'T WANT THE PLOT TO BE SPOILED FOR YOU. Some reviewers have expressed puzzlement over the Rose character. I thought it was puzzling how people kept falling madly in love with her--she was such a cold fish! Her daughter I could understand, but why such extraordinary devotion from her 2 husbands and Sr. Evangeline? The loneliness of Son--and in the end, the loneliness in the portrait of Thomas Clinton--was just devastating. And I also felt there was a certain spiritual tragedy in the conclusion. It was Cecilia's right to know about her father, and for that matter, Thomas had a right to know too. But both Son and Sister Evangeline were, at that point, too terrified of losing Cecelia, so they kept the fact of her genetic parentage hidden, robbing her of her own history, and cheating poor Thomas who really went away with nothing. Those two very sympathetic characters--Son and Sister Evangeline--in the end caved into their own desperate emotional needs, and placed those needs ahead of Cecilia's ultimate best interests. So it goes; I guess when people are vulnerable and desperate, that's what they do. But the whole picture is so darn sad. What the heck are they doing spending their lives at St. Elizabeth's in the first place--especially Son? Couldn't he get over his guilt over the first Cecilia? Or has the power of the ancient healing spring turned evil and voracious?
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Almost Wonderful Book January 13, 2002
First, Patchett can write very well--she carries you right along on a beautiful stream of words--so she is a joy to read no matter what else you might say about her. What I would say however is that while this is a really good book, she gets better in later books. It is probably not fair to judge this book by what she accomplishes later--but ah, we are human - and so we do unfair things. Just like Patchett's characters. I like her characters...not personally but as literary devices. They are complex. They are not presented in neat little packages so that we, the readers, are given a complete overview of who they are and why they do what they do. They are often contradictory and we have to keep asking why are they doing this -or that. I think we look for characters that are easy to understand because we are so desperate to try and make sense out of the world-and we are hoping that literature will help us do that. But I think good literature helps us see how complicated it really is and that there are no simple answers about why people do what they do. So Patchett gives us characters that make us crazy based on the decisions they are making-but who are good people, regardless of their decisions. We realize in the process that people do not have to do specific things to be good people-and that we don't really know -and don't have to know why a person makes the decisions they do- you can still care about them. Why, for instance, would a married woman, with a husband who adores her abandon him and go to a home for unwed mothers. Why would a woman who adores her mother decide to never communicate with her mother again? You read along saying to yourself-no! Don't do that. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for a Bookclub discussion
A book that all members agreed was thought provoking and enjoyable, it stimulated quite the discussion about the damage secret keeping does to individuals and the family structure... Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Bethany Perry
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story, engaging & didn't want it to end!
Published 8 days ago by bythesea
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick read, end leaves much to the imagination
I enjoyed the 3 person perspective. Was not thrilled with the ending though. I wish one of the men would have had a backbone. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Debbie Parquette
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, thought provoking, aggravating
I was distressed by this novel but couldn't put it down. Sometimes Patchett's tearing apart and putting back together of families is very pleasant and sometimes it seems cruel. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jellicle Girl
5.0 out of 5 stars Patchett's characters are people you will want to know
The author devised her story in to three parts, with two of them narrated, while the last in the first person. This works well
Published 1 month ago by karl kastorf
5.0 out of 5 stars very absorbing story
Great characters, great plot. The story held my interest; so many just put me to sleep! I would highly recommend.
Published 1 month ago by jewels
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of her best!
Published 1 month ago by Suz
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Just ok
Published 1 month ago by DE
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing but story was lacking
Good writing but story was lacking. I kept reading waiting for the shoe to drop but it never did. It was strange that the main character didn't seem to have any feelings for anyone... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ashley
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent experience.
Published 1 month ago by peanuts
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More About the Author

Ann Patchett was born in Los Angeles in 1963 and raised in Nashville. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. In 1990, she won a residential fellowship to the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she wrote her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. It was named a New York Times Notable Book for 1992. In 1993, she received a Bunting Fellowship from the Mary Ingrahm Bunting Institute at Radcliffe College. Patchett's second novel, Taft, was awarded the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for the best work of fiction in 1994. Her third novel, The Magician's Assistant, was short-listed for England's Orange Prize and earned her a Guggenheim Fellowship.Her next novel, Bel Canto, won both the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in 2002, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was named the Book Sense Book of the Year. It sold more than a million copies in the United States and has been translated into thirty languages. In 2004, Patchett published Truth & Beauty, a memoir of her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy. It was named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly. Truth & Beauty was also a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the Chicago Tribune's Heartland Prize, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Alex Award from the American Library Association. She was also the editor of Best American Short Stories 2006.Patchett has written for numerous publications, including the New York Times magazine, Harper's, The Atlantic,The Washington Post, Gourmet, and Vogue. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband, Karl VanDevender.

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