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The Patron Saint of Liars: A Novel (P.S.) by…
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The Patron Saint of Liars: A Novel (P.S.) (original 1992; edition 2007)

by Ann Patchett

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Member:jotarp
Title:The Patron Saint of Liars: A Novel (P.S.)
Authors:Ann Patchett
Info:Harper Perennial (2007), Paperback, 368 pages
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The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett (1992)

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When Rose Clinton becomes pregnant in the summer of 1967, she knows that without dramatic action on her part she will be locked in an unfulfilling marriage for the rest of her life. And so she leaves, heading east from her home in California to the St Elizabeth’s home for unwed mothers in rural Kentucky. This former hotel, now run by an order of nuns, is a refuge for “fallen women” who are expected to give up their newborns for adoption and then return to their former life as if they had only been away on holiday visiting relatives.

Rose, too, does not plan to keep her baby. But she also knows she will not go back to California. During the course of her pregnancy, she eases into the rhythm of life at St Elizabeth’s, first helping Sister Evangeline in the kitchen and over time assuming most of the daily food service responsibilities. By the time her baby is born St Elizabeth’s is home, and Rose has found a way to make a life for herself within the social norms of the day.

Some novelists might choose to end things right there. But Ann Patchett has much more in store for Rose and St Elizabeth’s over the ensuing 15 years. Rose is a strong woman, but unable to show affection let alone create and sustain intimate relationships. Only Sister Evangeline, one of the most endearing characters in this book, is able to penetrate her shell. But even so, she is unable to heal Rose’s inner wounds. And again, some novelists might have taken the storyline to a very predictable place. But in this, her 1992 debut, Ann Patchett shows signs of the brilliance that led to Bel Canto and other novels, with a surprising, emotional and satisfying resolution to Rose’s story. ( )
1 vote lauralkeet | Jul 22, 2016 |
Homes for unwed mothers were built on lies. Compassionate lies perhaps, but lies just the same. Ann Patchett explored the nature of these lies in "The Patron Saint of Liars," her first novel, published in 1992. Pregnant girls, usually in their teens, would come to these hideaways, have their babies after a few months, give them away for adoption and then return to their homes and schools, pretending to have just been away visiting a relative.

Rose, the central character of Patchett's novel, leaves the other liars in the story in her wake. She is not unmarried like the other girls. Rather she is married to a nice, devoted man whom she has never loved. She views her pregnancy as a chain that will forever link her to Thomas Clinton. So she climbs into his car and drives from California to Habit, Ky., where a Catholic home for unwed mothers is operated in a former resort. She doesn't mention the husband she left behind.

Then things really get complicated. The middle-aged handyman called Son, himself a lost soul, falls in love with this tall, pregnant beauty and suggests she marry him so they can raise her baby together. She loves Son no more than she does her other husband, but she has nowhere else to go. Besides she has been helping out the old nun who runs the kitchen and realizes the place needs her, even if they are unwilling to pay her.

The first third of the novel is told from Rose's point of view. In the middle third we learn more about Son's life, how he got shot in basic training before he would even get to a World War II battlefield, how the girl he loved in high school drowned and how he wound up in Habit. Cecilia, Rose and Son's now teen-age daughter, takes over in the final third, the most heart-wrenching because we see how the accumulation of lies impact the innocent. When Thomas Clinton finally tracks down Rose, the story approaches its climax.

In novels about secrets and lies, we expect the truth to eventually be revealed to all. Yet in Patchett's hands, most of those secrets and lies remain in place, the lies perhaps just becoming a little whiter, a little more compassionate. This may be her first novel, but she already writes like a master. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Mar 18, 2016 |
One of my favorites. Loved this story. Was somewhat surprised when the voice changed from her to her husband and then her child. It gave the book an amazing insight to see the story from different perspectives. Highly recommend. ( )
  lacey.tucker | Mar 10, 2016 |
io 11 discs

In the 1960's we find St Elizabeth, a castle like former hotel, now a home for unwed mothers, in Habit Kentucky.

"Unanticipated pregnancy makes liars out of young women .... as they try to rationalize, explain, and accept what is happening to them.
The illusive Rose Clinton arrives.
She has deserted her husband in San Diego and plans to have the baby he'll never know about.
The child will then be adopted.
"... to punish herself, she will also give up the mother she adores, the one person she really loves."

Rose then decided to marry the groundskeeper and keep her daughter....beginning a simple life with the second man she doesn't love....simple bigamy.
Her daughter Sissy grows up among the nuns, unwed mothers, a doting father and an indifferent mother.

Patchett did a tremendous series of character studies in this her first novel.
In successive narratives by Rose, Son and Sissy, you have a very explicit picture of their everyday life.

There was a series of interwoven plots, and although there were a few questions (strange resolutions?), I thoroughly enjoyed the read.

Julia Gibson portrayed Rose with the sharpness and edge the character had.
The depiction of her indifference was striking....
( she truly lives a series of extraordinary lies)
Son and Sissy, the objects of her neglect and indifference, had extensive narratives.
I couldn't help but become emotionally involved with the characters.

For me, 4*
and a recommendation to read this 1960's rendition of a sliver of the reality of the times. ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 24, 2016 |
This was a pleasurable book to read. The writing was robust and clever. I can see why Patchett has so much buzz about her right now. I found the book to be easy to read and hard to put down.

However, keeping me from giving this one 5 looks was the character around whom all others revolved: Rose. I found her to be a bit shallow and one-dimensional. I don't think this was the intention at all, in that I believe Patchett intended this character to be complex, brooding and unpredictable. I found her to be just the opposite. Rose was fervent in her lack of feeling and emotion, running when she got the good chance, and you knew she was going to run. Toward the end of the book, I found myself wondering if perhaps the author meant to give the impression that Rose suffered from Schizoid Personality Disorder. I was never compassionate toward Rose, and perhaps that was not the point, but by the end of the book, I didn't care at all about her.

Son, Cecilia and Sister Evangeline saved the story. They were all very compelling, complete and full characters. I felt Son's trepidation, sorry and joy. I ached for Cecilia to find her own way, first at St. Elizabeth's, then a way out of the grand hotel. Sister Evangeline was the mother/grandmother/confidant we all wish to have. The way they all interacted with Rose and because of Rose was a good tale.

I liked this book, and will read more by this author.
( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
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This book is for my parents, Frank Patchett and Jeanne Wilkinson Ray, and my grandmother, Eve Wilkinson.
First words
Two O'clock in the morning, a Thursday morning, the first bit of water broke through the ground of George Clatterbuck's back pasture in Habit, Kentucky, and not a living soul saw it.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In the Patron Saint of Liars, Rose is a young wife of three years who concludes she married by mistake, that she misinterpreted teenage lust as a sign from God. Newly pregnant and uanble to continue a life with a man she doesn't love, Rose decides to leave. She abandons her quiet, inoffensive husband and their life at the Southern California seaside of the 1960's. Most of the odd and troubled characters fascinate and confound us. In the end, Rose surprises us on more time, and Sissy grows up, showing herself neither a liar nor a "leaver."
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061339210, Paperback)

St. Elizabeth's is a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. Life there is not unpleasant, and for most, it is temporary. Not so for Rose, a beautiful, mysterious woman who comes to the home pregnant but not unwed. She plans to give up her baby because she knows she cannot be the mother it needs. But St. Elizabeth's is near a healing spring, and when Rose's time draws near, she cannot go through with her plans, not all of them. And she cannot remain forever untouched by what she has left behind . . . and who she has become in the leaving.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:06 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Pregnant and alone, Rose seeks sanctuary at St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, where she at last finds a place to put down the roots she has never felt she had.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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