The Patron Saint of Liars Paperback – Apr 19 2011
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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 fiance'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''...as 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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
When we meet Rose, she is a very confused, Catholic woman who realizes after some years of marriage (and despite the fact that she's pregnant), that she simply doesn't love her husband anymore. Perhaps she never did. Rather than getting help from her local priest or even a marriage counselor and, even short of confiding in her husband (about her lack of love for him or her pregnancy), Rose does what Rose does best...she simply leaves.
With no destination in mind and no money (Rose's preferred method of travel), Rose ends up in a home for unwed mothers in Kentucky. She lies to the nuns about her family and eventually meets Son, the handsome, charismatic handyman at the home. All the pregnant girls are in love with Son, but of course, it is Rose who ends up snaring him...and marrying him. The fact that Rose already has a husband is simply glossed over. This is a woman who doesn't want to be bothered with details.
Fifteen years later, Son is a good father to Cecilia, the daughter that isn't really his...at least in a biological sense. Whether Rose is a good (second) wife and mother, is a more subjection question.
Rose and Son have inherited the mansion belonging to the founder of the home and while both Son and Cecilia are happy to live there, Rose chooses instead to live in Son's small cabin. It seems, for reasons not made completely clear, that this woman simply can't bear life in a mansion with her gorgeous husband and daughter. Strange? Maybe for you and I, but definitely not for our Rose.Read more ›
The main character isn't mysterious, as some have said, only implausible, dull and completely unsympathetic. Her departure from her husband at the beginning of her pregnancy seems to be more about a love of driving long distances at random than an escape from anything the reader can understand. Her deciding to take refuge in a home for unwed mothers made me more than annoyed--angry. The author makes a mockery of women (usually young girls) who, in pre-choice days were forced into such hideaways.
This author writes some pretty prose--too much of it in fact. That's unfortunate for readers, because it hides the nothing she has to say.
I think that the author had a way of connecting herself with each of the characters so that they seemed real. Even the characters that had relatively minor roles were very tangible, like someone that every reader would have met at some point in their life. The main character, Rose, however, somehow made the novel feel incomplete because of her emptiness as a person. The fact that she was such a secretive character, even up until the end, left me feeling unsatisfied. Her personality is sympathetic yet despicable at the same time. Overall, I feel that the novel was passable, granted that it was Patchett's first novel. I would recommend this book for a light read, but not if you want to get something lasting out of it.
Most recent customer reviews
The setting for The Patron Saint of Liars is imaginative and the characters interesting but the story falls short of it's initial promise. Read morePublished on Dec 7 2012 by Frances J. Cholakis
I loved this book! I have been trying to set aside time to "feast" on good fiction and this was a delicious find! Read morePublished on April 30 2007 by Kirsten
I didn't want this book to end - I wanted to keep reading the inner monologues of Rose and Cecilia and Son. What better compliment or recomendation is there about a story? Read morePublished on July 6 2004 by Denise Sebesta Lanier
This is the kind of contemporary novel I yearn for, yet seldom find. Everything that happens in this novel is unexpected and inexplicable, yet powerful and magical. Read morePublished on April 21 2004 by Kirie Pedersen
I enjoyed all of the characters, Son, Rose, Sister Evangeline, etc. I loved the way the plot was moving and how the characters were developing, as well as how the author used the... Read morePublished on April 13 2004
I really liked the book but wished the ending would have been different.Published on March 23 2004 by T. Martinez
This book is well written and held my interest, but I must say up front that the overall air of the book is melancholy. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2003
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. Read morePublished on July 19 2003 by Peggy Vincent