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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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Rose Clinton deserts her marriage and her life in California, heads across the country, and winds up in a home for unwed mothers run by Catholic nuns in Habit, Kentucky. Sister Bernadette, upon Rose's arrival, predicts accurately that she will keep the baby. She ends up marrying a local man and continues to work in the home's kitchen. I had a hard time forcing myself to continue reading this book. It just didn't grab me. I didn't particularly care for any of the major characters. The plot seemed to drag in places as well. Part of Rose is hidden from the reader all through the book. Readers are left questioning what Rose is fleeing, which is the same question they have at the beginning. ( )
  thornton37814 | Jan 28, 2014 |
Favorite Quotes:
"I'm making it sound like it was easy, when in fact it was not. It was sad enough to change my life for good, to make the blood reverse the course of its flow in my veins."

"I looked at her name for a while, tried to remember what I had been thinking that night. I loved her. I loved her even as she was swimming away from me, even as I was hating her. That's the way it is, when you love somebody your whole life. It's like a direction you go in, even when you don't want to go any more. I lay back on the blanket and closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face. I listened to the sound of the Cecilia's strokes through the water and occasionally the sound of her diving from one of the rocks and thought, she'll stay out there her whole life rather than come onto dry land with me."

"I wanted to sit down in the middle of the road and stay there for the rest of my life. Whenever someone came by and said, Hey, Cecilia, what're you doing there in the road, I'd tell them, missing people was a full-time job, being sorry about what was gone was going to take every waking minute now, so much time and energy that I had no choice but to stay right on that spot until they all decided to come back. I meant it as a joke at first, but then I looked down at the gravel and really thought about it. I couldn't wait for them. They weren't coming back. I'd been trying all my life to figure out what was going on, with my mother, with all those girls that come and then go away. But now I wanted to forget. Right then I decided, as much as I'd wanted to know before, from here on out I didn't want to know at all."

( )
  alycias | Apr 4, 2013 |
Ann Patchett's first novel, published when she was 29, is not your typical autobiographical first effort. Although I don't think it is quite as successful as her later work, it is still a very good book.

Except for a brief opening chapter about the novel's setting, the whole book is told in first person by three characters: Rose, Son, and Cecilia. The setting is St. Elizabeth's, a Catholic home for unwed mothers located in an old hotel in rural Kentucky. Rose doesn't really belong there, because she is married, but she has become increasingly restless and dissatisfied with her California life, and the discovery that she is pregnant appears to be the last straw. With the help of her priest, a family friend, she finds a place as far as possible from her home and takes off driving. It is 1968, but the ferment of those years seems hardly to touch her. Even the AWOL soldier she picks up hitchhiking doesn't really talk about the war. Rose seems removed from her time, even before she arrives at isolated St. Elizabeth's.

At the home, Rose learns the rules, both written and unwritten; befriends the elderly nun who works in the kitchen, and discovers a talent for cooking. Shortly before her baby is due, she marries Son, the one man at St. Elizabeth's, and continues working as the unpaid cook for the home.

Son (Wilson) is 25 years older than Rose. He is also removed from his time in that, while he had enlisted in the Marines on the day after Pearl Harbor, a stupid accident in boot camp removed him from the formative experience of men in his generation. Another accident caused him to leave his home and parents and wander the mid-South until he settled at St. Elizabeth's.

Their daughter Cecilia, born in 1967, goes to school in the little town of Habit, Kentucky, but grows up amid the pregnant girls and nuns at St. Elizabeth's. She is also mothered by June Clutterbuck, who owns the land on which the home stands, and grandmothered by Sister Evangeline, the kitchen nun who mothers and befriends Rose. Cecilia feels deeply the emotional absence of Rose, who does all the correct physical tasks of mothering but none of the emotional ones, keeping her core self hidden from her husband, daughter, and even from Sister Evangeline.

Many important events take place in this book, which might be spoilers if recounted in a review. At the end we are left with some understanding of Rose and Son, and of the peculiar family that is St. Elizabeth's; and we wonder what will become of Cecilia. Patchett is not the type of author who writes sequels, but I do wish that some day, with the craft and wisdom she has shown in later books, she would revisit Cecilia. ( )
  auntieknickers | Apr 3, 2013 |
Again, magical. How she captures a sense of place, geography, so well is beyond me, especially because all of her books are set in different places. The beginning of this one reminded me of Joan Didion, a little bit - Rose is like Maria Wyeth in [b:Play It As It Lays|428|Play It As It Lays A Novel|Joan Didion|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1156917259s/428.jpg|4703]. Beautiful. ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
Not quite as good as Bel Canto, but still a really excellent book. ( )
  JenneB | Apr 2, 2013 |
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This book is for my parents, Frank Patchett and Jeanne Wilkinson Ray, and my grandmother, Eve Wilkinson.
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:23:27 -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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