May 8, 2010

The Patron Saint of Liars, By Ann Patchett

The Patron Saint of Liars is the story of Rose, a married woman in the 1960s who finds herself pregnant and trapped. She drives from California to Kentucky, leaving behind her husband and former life to arrive at a home for unwed mothers.

Without giving up too much, the book chronicles her life and choices once she arrives at St. Elizabeth's Home for Unwed Mothers.

Overall, I liked the book. But there were a few things that drove me utterly crazy and prevented me from LOVING the book.

Plot: The plot was great, though perhaps a bit predictable, especially when it comes to her main choice -- whether or not to keep the baby. However, there was enough mystery to keep me interested, especially once I got into the meat of the book. The ending didn't wrap everything in a nice bow, but it was unexpected, yet important.

Characters: Here's where it fell short. I HATED Rose. When the book opens, I empathized with her and her need to leave. But as the book continues through the choices she makes, my dislike grows. It's as if she gives up and makes her choices because she has to, even though she knows they're not what she really wants. That attitude makes her seem apathetic and uncaring which translates to how she treats the people in her life. That treatment of others was what drove me batty.

It could be argued that eliciting such a strong reaction for the character -- even if it was a negative one -- is a compliment to the author. It's true that her characters had depth and I loved all of the supporting characters. Even Rose was a well-written character, which is probably why I could have such a strong feeling about her.

Structure: Overall, it was a well-written novel. Broken into four parts, the first section set the stage and each subsequent section is told from the perspective of one of the main characters. I liked this because it helped to further define the characters and helped to move along the plot. The chapters were a bit long for me, but that's only because I have a short attention span and like frequent breaking points!

As long as you go into it knowing this isn't your average happy ending story, I think you'll enjoy it, perhaps even more than me. 3 stars.


  1. I wanted to love this book, as I like Ann Patchett's writing, but this book did not thrill me either.

  2. I had mixed feelings about the book, too. The first half of the book was brilliant, but the second half left me irritated at Rose a lot. But Ann Patchett is a gifted writer.

  3. I'm really mixed about reading this. It sounds so good. Thanks for an honest review.


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