The Patron Saint of Liars

Rating: 0

Ann Patchett

The Patron Saint of Liars is about a woman who decides that she wasn't meant to have married her husband and doesn't really love him, so she leaves him. The complication is that, as she makes this self-discovery, she also learns that she is pregnant. Her destination, on leaving her husband, is a Catholic home for unwed pregnant girls where they stay until they have their babies and then put the children up for adoption and go back to their lives. The woman (Rose) goes there to escape from her past and have her baby.

Through the book, we get to know Rose and see how she and the baby that she has grow up. A major theme in the book is Rose's attempt to figure out what she is "meant" to do with her life. She originally married because she thought that she had received a sign from God telling her that it was what she was chosen to do. She spends the rest of her life floating around looking for that role in life that she was chosen by God to fill. As a reader, there are several points in the book where it is unclear whether Rose has found the thing that she was meant to do and cannot accept it, or if there will be something more for her.

At the end, I wasn't sure what the point of the book was supposed to be. I suspect that Patchett wasn't sure what conclusion she wanted to reach either; she seems to be uncertain how to resolve the question of how to decide to settle down and take what life has handed you rather than running off to find something new. Granted, it's not an easy question to answer and perhaps an interesting handling of the question is good enough. I certainly enjoyed reading the book and thought that it set out interesting characters with interesting relationships. I consider the book to be enjoyable and thoughtful enough not to be trash reading, but light enough to be quick and fun. I rate it a '+' within that genre, but a '0' overall.


Review written September 1999.


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