For a first novel this is astonishing. I read it in a day. I couldn't put it down, always wanting to know what was next. I can say that about very few authors except Stephen King.
I loved the compassionate way that the writer presents and develops each of the characters - reminding me that there really are so many things that we really do not know about others, and that to judge is to really miss the essence of humanity..
A fine story of ordinary people told in an extraordinary way. As in real life, people can't change who they are and there are few Hollywood endings.
Another very good read from this author. She has a gift in drawing individual characters that feel like real people you can care about. This is a story of "small" lives that proves the maxim about the entire universe being contained in a grain of sand.
brianreynolds, who left a comment, sums up Ann Patchett's books the best, especially this one.
Her books are great to read, however the endings always seems to disappoint.
Regardless of the ending, this book is a wonderful read.
Ann Patchett has 26 letters to work. Those letters magically create people we can care about.
I'm becoming used to Ann Patchett's endings; I am not a person who demands certainty or dislikes surprises, but simply refusing to finish is different than subtlety or craftiness or being hip. Avoidance is particularly annoying from an author who is already in her debut novel a master at storytelling. The Patron Saint of Liars grabs the reader very early and doesn't let go. She makes me lose sleep, lose track of time, lose perspective when I find myself lecturing her characters, cheering them one, weeping at their dilemmas, and wondering how in the world they got to be the way they are. The problem is, these are not just character studies, not even photographs sitting in the kitchen at Saint Elizabeth's home for unwed mothers. Even in that small setting, they move. They perform. The plot simmers from the start and reaches a rolling boil by the end. Chickens come home to roost. There are half a dozen ways the lies that hold everything together could come unglued. Patchett doesn't underline them, doesn't laugh at us. But they are there, little threads the reader would like to grab in the hope of unraveling her story. I'm spellbound. The writing, the story, the ideas behind the story. It's all here. And after now three times being led down her garden path, I give up. Her endings be damned; it was an incredible read. It's been awhile since I was so wrenched by a situation, so touched by a crossroads, so compelled to finish a book.
I enjoyed this book. It wove a spell for me into another world. The characters were intriguing and unusual. They were rather sad and I saw very little change and even less explanation for the way they were, even though Patchett presented them sympathetically. In a way, it made the book more realistic, because it is rare that we understand why people are the way they are and they change little over the years. I especially liked the wise old woman idea. She was friend, advisor and family to the main charaters.
I really liked this book, but not as much as Bel Canto, but enough to want to read everything else that Patchett has written. Some of my friends liked it much more than Bel Canto -- go figure. :)
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