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The Patron Saint of Liars Paperback – April 19, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (April 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547520204
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547520209
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

I love Ann Patchett's writing style and character development.
Lorraine S. Stehn
I was a bit disappointed in the ending, but I think that had to do with more with finding the Lorraine character incredibly annoying.
A. Warner
I was very involved with the characters and the story - always the sign of a good book!
lorrie lennon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 127 people found the following review helpful By Joe Sherry on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
"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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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Marc Wordsmith on March 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
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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67 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on July 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is Patchett's first novel, and she's gotten better and better. If I hadn't read Bel Canto before this one, I'd have awarded 5 stars.
Divided into 3 parts, the book spans the lives of its three main characters: Rose, a woman with 'issues' who has trouble attaching to people but tries to do her job in life as well as she's able. Son, Rose's 2nd husband, is a giant of a man who is damaged by a tragedy and finds a place for himself as handyman in a 60's home for unwed mothers. And Cecelia, named after a tattoo on Son's arm of his first love, damaged by her weird upbringing but a complete person nonetheless, thanks to the mothering of the 'saint' in the story,, a clairvoyant nun who mothers them all.
I loved this book.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Sandra Zickefoose on January 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
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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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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