Monday, June 7, 2010

Book Review: The Patron Saint of Liars

Bel Canto was the first (and only other) book I read by Ann Patchett. It was very different from other books and was hoping that The Patron Saint of Liars would strike me the same way. And it did, sort of.

The quote on the front cover by the New York Times Book Review was "A fairy tale...a delight". I couldn't disagree more. What do you think of when you read the words "fairy tale"? I think magical, wonderful, and happy. I know there is tragedy in many fairy tales but that is not what I generally associate the words with. This book was quite depressing to be honest with you. Here is a quick recap with some potential spoilers (I'm warning you!!!).

Rose is a young woman who is unhappy with her marriage. Growing up a fairly devout Catholic she hoped for a sign from God to let her know if she should become a nun or get married. She married a man who she thinks might be right, but realizes pretty early on that she isn't happy. Then she finds out she is pregnant. What does she do? Runs away. Leaves her mom (with whom she has a close relationship) and her husband a note and then asks her priest for information on where she can go to have this baby. She drives from California to Kentucky to a Catholic home for unwed mothers. She marries Son the caretaker-45years to her 24ish and ends up keeping her baby and moving into his house (yes she is technically married to 2 men). Rose is a distant mother and wife as the years go on and she has a touchy relationship with her daughter Celia-who is not aware that Son is not her real father. Fifteen years later Rose's first husband tracks her down by letter to inform her about her mother's ill health. When Rose reads he is coming to speak with her in person what dose she do, ups and leaves husband #2 and her 15 year old daughter. Oh and in the past 15 years she has moved out on her own but in close proximity to her husband and daughter. Strained relationships through and through!

It's all really weird to be honest with you. I didn't really like any of the characters and I just found Rose's actions incredibly cowardly. I fully believe that everyone should be happy, and I also realize that sometimes other people's lives and happiness may be sacrificed for that, but I don't think it's acceptable to just leave. In my opinion the mature, responsible thing is to confront those issues-I'm not saying stay somewhere you aren't happy-but have the guts to deal with it and not just run away. People deserve the truth, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I do know though that this is definitely easier said than done!

Not my favorite book-and definitely no fairy tale in my opinion!!!


  1. Doesn't sound like my kind of book, too disjointed. I agree with you that we all have difficult choices to make as we live our lives and we should always have the respect of others and those you love when you make decisions that will affect others. It takes courage to face the most difficult choices, running away never accomplishes much.

  2. I don't completely remember this book, but I do remember not liking the main character at all. Bel Canto is definitely still my favourite of her books that I've read!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.