Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Patron Saint of Liars” as Want to Read:
Patron Saint of Liars
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Patron Saint of Liars

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  16,596 ratings  ·  1,811 reviews
Since her first publication in 1992, celebrated novelist Ann Patchett has crafted a number of elegant novels, garnering accolades and awards along the way. Now comes a reissue of the best-selling debut novel that launched her remarkable career. St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers in Habit, Kentucky, usually harbors its residents for only a little while. Not so Rose C...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1992)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
The Help by Kathryn StockettTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk KiddFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggGarden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen
Quirky Southern Fiction
130th out of 589 books — 1,473 voters
The Ruby Brooch by Katherine Lowry LoganThe Last MacKlenna by Katherine Lowry LoganNice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly HarperPatron Saint of Liars by Ann PatchettAnd One Last Thing ... by Molly Harper
Books Set in Kentucky
4th out of 38 books — 34 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Chelsea Cripps
The story of Rose, a habitual abandoner, who finds herself in a home for unwed mothers in the 1960s. The story is about the place almost as much as the people--a place where people come for a brief, but life-altering, time and then move on. It is also the story of the people who stay there--Rose, with all her secrets, her daughter, the nuns and the groundskeeper. I loved the story of the place and I thought the writing was quite good. It held my interest and there were a few really lovely moment...more
Mel
I have mixed feelings about this particular Patchett novel. I didn't want to put it down but I wasn't happy when I finished.

I was totally sucked in by the story's opening but then the tone changed and the character depth faded a bit. The turmoil the main character feels is never discussed once she finds her way to St. Elizabeth's, yet it drives the remainder of the novel. Just as the story picks up steam again, it's over. Given the story line and the characters I thought the story could have bee...more
Wormie
Mar 31, 2007 Wormie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Ann Patchett’s debut novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, is a beautifully written story about people, secrets, and lies. The book’s title intrigued me; “Patron Saint of Liars” – a conflict between virtue and dishonesty. Patchett’s writing is quiet and compelling as she shares the story of Rose Clinton, and how her lies affected her life and the lives of those around her.

After three years of marriage, Rose Clinton finds herself pregnant. Unsatisfied with her life, and questioning her love for her...more
Holly Booms Walsh
Aug 21, 2007 Holly Booms Walsh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Alice Hoffman novels, people who yearn, Oprah's book club
Shelves: fiction
I just read this entire book in one sitting. The title is what caught my eye, such a wonderful title. It is beautifully written, and reminded me of the trance that Alice Hoffman books put the reader into, even though this book did not have the mystical, magical imagery that Hoffman infuses her books with. This is a story of Rose, a young woman that marries twice to men that she does not really love, and though she spends her life helping others, never really finds the unknown thing that she is s...more
Kate
Ann Patchett is probably best well known for having written Bel Canto which I am best known for not having read. But I was browsing in Borders one day and happened upon Patron Saint and was finally moved to purchase a book after several months of not having bought any really. The story centers around St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers in Kentucky in the 1960's. One night, a woman named Rose enters the home, unwilling to share her secrets, stating that her husband has died and she will giv...more
Heather
Jan 31, 2013 Heather rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: adult
Oh, Ann, this was really sub-par. I was initially interested in the set-up, but your lack of deeper exploration into the implications of it made me bored and disappointed. This book contains a potentially great premise (life for pregnant women in a home for unwed mothers, and life for a family who works there), and in my opinion completely falls flat. The book contains selfish characters whose reasons for being so are woefully unexplored. Main question: WHY does Rose always feel the need to leav...more
Deborah Edwards
This is my third Ann Patchett novel. The first one I read was her miraculous gem of a book, "Bel Canto." The second was the solid, beautifully cadenced tale of a Boston family called "Run." When I discovered that "The Patron Saint of Liars" was Patchett's first novel, I assumed that the two books I named above, which came later and which I both adore, would be better crafted, more intricate, more resonant. Turns out her first novel is the one I love the best. And that's saying something. Patchet...more
Danielle
Yeah, so I actually didn't love this book like I was expecting to. It was kind of depressing, and there wasn't an overarching moral lesson or something that made the unhappy ending worth it. Don't get me wroing, I loved Bel Canto, and that didn't end happily either, but I actually thought this story would have been better for a different kind of ending. At least a redemption of sorts. But no luck.
My biggest complaint, and this is kind of silly, but I thought the whole point with the healing spri...more
Jack
I've been on a junket of Patchett books; this is my third in the past two months. She is a fantastic wordsmith aand generally an excellent story-teller. This is clearly a less mature effort, with an opaque heroine whose motives remain as elusive - and frustrating - to us as they do to the folks in this tale. Rose runs away from her husband and, almost by whim, moves into a rural Kentucky home for unwed mothers. She stays there for many years, without revealing her past to the sisters who run the...more
Bethany
Sometimes a book is written so well that you get a glimpse into a life you might have otherwise not understood. This is one of those books.

Martha Rose gets married. She realizes that she does not love her husband, and begins to feel trapped. She finds out she is pregnant. She leaves. This begins the journey of the rest of her life.

This book is about the choices that she makes and the impact that her choices have on others.
Andi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Judy
This was the first novel I've read by Ann Patchett, but it felt strangely familiar and I kept wondering if I'd read it before. I don't think I had, but maybe I'd read another book set in a home for unmarried mothers. Or maybe it is that I've read a number of books where a character walks out on family and home because s/he decides they are living the "wrong life", as Rose does here. (I'd just read another novel, Kate Atkinson's Behind the Scenes at the Museum, where a central character does just...more
Shannon Winslow
Told through three different point-of-view characters, this is the story of a young wife who panics when pregnancy threatens to bind her forever to a man she now realizes she doesn't love. Leaving her old life behind, she runs away to take refuge in a home for unwed mothers, intending to give her baby up for adoption - a plan she ultimately alters.

I enjoyed Patchett's writing style (although the editor in me wanted to correct her punctuation shortcomings), but the story itself didn't hold water....more
Lynne Spreen
I thought I loved anything written by Ann Patchett, but this was an exception. The writing was beautiful, but I felt that I couldn't get everything out of the book that she intended without the help of a discussion group or a degree in fine arts.

On the plus side, I enjoyed all of the characters; they were unique and memorable. On the minus, it was like a giant short story: rich in detail and character description but cryptic in the extreme.

I couldn't perceive any arc for the characters, which i...more
Kelley
I wanted to give this book 4 stars. I really did. Ann Patchett has a way of writing that immediately draws you in. She has this incredible ability to paint a picture with words without being flowery. It worked so incredibly well in, State of Wonder, and for the first few chapters, I thought it would be the same for this book. I was immediately drawn in by her description of Habit, and the history behind the hotel, the spring. Unfortunately, the history was FAR more interesting than the present,...more
AJ LeBlanc
This is one of those books I read years ago, but the characters are still lingering about in my head. It's the 1960s and Rose finds herself unhappily married and unhappily pregnant. She flees her husband, mother, and life and arrives at St. Elizabeth's home for unwed mothers, where she plans to give birth and leave, but probably not to return to her husband, who doesn't even know she's pregnant.

The nuns and other expectant mothers at St. Elizabeth's turn out to provide healing that Rose didn't e...more
Carrie
I really, really enjoyed The Patron Saint of Liars. I had previously read Patchett's Bel Canto and wasn't wowed by it, particularly the ending, which I found a little forced. But The Patron Saint of Liars was great. It tells the story of Rose, a young woman who flees her young marriage, and moved to Kentucky, to a home for unwed mothers to give up the baby, and what happens to her in that place. And I just loved it - the characters seemed like real characters, their motivations understandable, a...more
Cindy
This book hooked me in the beginning and held me until the truly bitter end. I'm amazed at the depth of emotion it evoked in me, especially considering that I really could not have cared less about the main character. I can't say I enjoyed the book because I didn't like those emotions, mostly frustration (because I kept wanting to care, and to understand Rose and her motivations) and annoyance and anger with her. I almost feel like I have to read it again because I must have dozed, or skimmed ov...more
Julie
When Rose discovers she is pregnant, she panics and flees her husband and life in California to stay at St. Elizabeth's, a home for young, unmarried pregnant women in Kentucky. But once there, her life changes in ways she never would have imagined. St. Elizabeth's becomes her permanent home and its kitchen becomes the center of her life, as she prepares meals for the house full of pregnant women and nuns. Distancing herself from her past is her main priority, more so than her daughter or new hus...more
Alena
3.5 stars
The problem with reading an author out of order is that most tend to get better with experience. Ann Patchett is one such writer. I am definitely a member of her fan club because of novels like STATE OF WONDER and BEL CANTO. So when my mom gave me PATRON SAINT OF LIARS, I was eager to start.
In keeping with her other books, Patchett does a tremendous job with the setting. I could picture Hotel Louisa and the surrounding Kentucky landscape easily in my mind. I loved her description of the...more
Rebecca Brothers
Anne Patchett's just damned good at coming up with titles, isn't she? Bel Canto, The Magician's Assistant. They are the kind of good titles that make me frankly hate her just a little because I think, "Damn, that's good. I could have done that," but of course I couldn't or I would have. This novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, was her debut and she started strong. The book begins with a fairy tale, a legend, a miracle story of a healing natural spring bubbling to the surface in a place called Habi...more
Kkraemer
Patchett's particular skill, I think, is in having characters tell their entirely believable, complex stories while the reader is still on the outside, watching them. It's a sort of first person/omniscient approach that raises more questions than you'd think. Instead of knowing all, you find yourself wondering and caring and being, by turns, delighted and surprised.

This is an early work. It tells the story of a woman who simply cannot stay grounded. She has to leave, even when she has no idea wh...more
sydney
I like Patchett's more recent books (Bel Canto, Truth and Beauty) better, but this was a good novel that showed her talent for weaving together many different characters' stories into a whole.

It's the story of Rose, a woman who leaves her husband in California to have her baby in a home for unwed mothers on the other side of the country. But when she gets there, she isn't sure whether she wants to go home. A third of the way through the book, the point of view changes from Rose's to her husband'...more
Charlotte
This is a lovely book. It is also an unusual book, with an almost exclusively female cast. Part of me really enjoyed that - it changed the expected dynamics and so left the reader unable to guess what came next.

The novel is about a married woman who goes to a home for unwed mothers, but ultimately decides to keep her child and raise her. That barely captures it, though - the devil is in the details and the narrative is not what you expect.

It's divided into three parts - the first narrative is fr...more
Barbara P
I can't believe this is the first book I have read by Ann Patchett. WOW! Fabulous! Terrific! Spell binder!
This was a book I read whenever I had a moment through two days. The story was imaginative, simple yet complex. This was seen particularly in the life of Rose Clinton, the main character. The story ushered the reader into thinking about forgiveness, lack of forgiveness, secrets, possible redemption, love, ways to care for others. There were themes of grace, insight and compassion interwoven...more
Suzanne
In an idle moment I grabbed this off my never-diminishing $1 book pile (darn you, For-Sale shelf at the Miraleste library). I liked this less than the other two Patchett novels I’ve read, but still enjoyed it as a light entertainment. I loved Bel Canto and would happily put it in the high 4-star range. State of Wonder I liked enough to grant middle 4-star status. This one, however, was nothing special and one that probably won’t stay with me long, but it was still compulsively readable with beli...more
Janice
This book is first told in the voice of Rose, a young woman who, in the 1970's, leaves her husband, not telling him of her pregnancy, and drives across the country to a home in Kentucky for unwed mothers, run by a group of Catholic nuns. Rose first seems like a sympathetic character, but this lying and running becomes the theme of her life.
The second voice is that of Son, the handy-man and caretaker, who loves Rose and wants to take care of her and her baby.
The last voice is Cecelia, the daught...more
Dawn
This book frustrated me. It had an interesting premise and characters that engaged me, however it never went anywhere.
I'm sure there are many who would disagree with me and obviously there are exceptions, but when I read a story I need to know how it ends. And if not all spelled out, at least some really great hints, or at worst - an idea.
This overall depressing book, which admittedly was well-written for the most part, just simply ended. Everyone had ends that were loose and sad and unfinished...more
Lorraine
I understand this was Ann Patchett's fist novel. I am a huge fan of this author. Her writing nver dissapoints. I understand that not all her endings please all her readers, but there is just something about her use of words and the fluidity of her stories. There are three main characters in this story. Rose, a woman with 'issues' who has trouble attaching to people but tries to do her job in life at a home for unwed mother run by Catholic nuns. This is where Rose comes in the early part of the s...more
Karolyn Sherwood
I'm not really sure it's fair to judge a work from an author's oeuvre when you read them out of order. The Patron Saint of Liars is Ann Patchett's first novel, yet it's the fourth one I've read. Her most famous (successful) novel, Bel Canto, was the second one for me.

I loved The Patron Saint of Liars. I could barely put it down. Patchett has the most incredible way of drawing me into her novels to the point I feel like I'm friends with her protagonist. This story might actually be my favorite o...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Family History
  • Midnight Champagne
  • Daughter's Keeper
  • Abide with Me
  • Sleep Toward Heaven
  • Mrs. Kimble
  • The Whole World Over
  • Lark & Termite
  • The Used World
  • Range Of Motion
  • The Tie That Binds
  • Illumination Night
  • Broken for You
  • Searching for Caleb
  • Evensong
  • Animal Dreams
  • The Painted Drum
  • Nobody's Fool
7136914
Patchett was born in Los Angeles, California. Her mother is the novelist Jeanne Ray.

She moved to Nashville, Tennessee when she was six, where she continues to live. Patchett said she loves her home in Nashville with her doctor husband and dog. If asked if she could go any place, that place would always be home. "Home is ...the stable window that opens out into the imagination."

Patchett attended hi...more
More about Ann Patchett...
Bel Canto State of Wonder Run Truth and Beauty The Magician's Assistant

Share This Book

“I wanted to eat her pain, take it into me and make it my own.” 32 likes
“That was the way things worked. When you were looking for the big fight, the moment that you thought would knock everything over, nothing much happened at all.” 14 likes
More quotes…