What struck me first about this riveting novel was its form. Few will notice or care about this, simply looking for a "good story." But Maile Meloy has really done something remarkable with regards to the "layout" of the book. Starting with a wedding, and ending with a funeral, the tone is set for . . . well . . . life--everything in between. The sheer beauty of this idea reminded me of a book by J.T. McCrae--The Bark of the Dogwood--where form is also a key to the progression of events and characters. More attention should be paid to this sort of thing, for it really separates the men from the boys when it comes to building a great work of fiction such as "Liars and Saints."
Writing about family sagas and family secrets is nothing new, but the masterful telling and again "form" of this book really made it stand out for me from the other mediocre reads that pepper the lists. With each new decade, Meloy manages to paint a different portrait of the family, building to a wonderful crescendo and satisfying conclusion. And if you think that's par for the course, you haven't read much, for many authors today simply ingore the rules of good writing. Meloy is, in a sense, old-fashioned in that the treatment of the plot, characters, and settings, is all interwoven. And while this may sound academic, it's not. Few authors, whether trained or not, achieve this level of reader satisfaction.
With its rich textures of myriad lives over vast periods of time and the excellent writing, this book will surely become one of the bestsellers.