Ann Patchett fans have probably already read this amazing book. It was Ms. Patchett’s first novel. I can’t believe that because it is so polished and well-done. I am not a full-fledged Ann Patchett fan because I found Commonwealth tedious at best and I only modestly enjoyed State of Wonder. But I loved Bel Canto and I have to say, I loved The Patron Saint of Liars.
The story is about a young woman who felt trapped in her life. She’s a devote Catholic and doesn’t see divorce as an option, didn’t even consider it. Instead she decides to leave her life and go as far away as possible. Unfortunately, she must leave not only people with whom she feels trapped but also her beloved mother. She leaves with no real plan except to find a good family who will take care of the baby she’s carrying.
Not to spoil the story, I will leave it there. You’ll have to read it to find out more. But, I will say that it is written in three clear and distinct points-of-view in sections. Each tell more about the inner workings of those three characters and their relationships to one another. That’s one of my favorite kinds of books to read. That’s why Susan Howatch is one of my all-time favorite writers.
Patchett writes with wonderful simplicity and clarity. Yes, there’s a lot of inner dialogue and yes, there’s a lot of backstory. But, the author handles both so well. This is the kind of book that is so touching, that tears form in your eyes as you read.
Here are some especially stunning quotes:
People think you have to be going someplace, when, in fact, the ride is plenty.
There was a loneliness in being answered, as if God and I had less to say to each other now.
It was a time in my life when a Junior Mint could mean the difference between happiness and unhappiness.
If people do have more than one life in a lifetime, they should be careful to make sure the different versions of the past never overlap.
…missing people was a full-time job. Being sorry about what was gone was going to take every waking minute now, so much time and energy that I had no choice but to stay right on that spot until they decided to come back.
This is a book about loneliness. I felt the rawness of Rose’s loneliness from the first page. She could love deeply and she could hurt others deeply.
My only negative in this first novel is the redundancy. We heard how beautiful Rose was one or two or three times too many. As a reader, I wanted to say, “Okay, I get it!” But, overlooking that sleight, I can say this is a must-read and on my list of all-time favorite books.
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