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The Liar

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,016 Ratings  ·  529 Reviews
Stephen Fry's breathtakingly outrageous debut novel, by turns eccentric, shocking, brilliantly comic and achingly romantic.

Adrian Healey is magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life; unprepared too for the afternoon in Salzburg when he will witness the savage murder of a Hungarian violinist; unprepared to learn about the Mendax device; unprepared for more mu
Paperback, 390 pages
Published August 5th 2004 by Arrow (first published September 16th 1991)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 04, 2008 Martine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anglophiles and lovers of British humour
Stephen Fry ranks among my favourite persons on earth. There's something about his terribly English combination of wit, erudition and a dirty mind that never fails to delight me, and it shines brightly in The Liar, the first of the four novels he has published so far. An irreverent and intelligent take on such British institutions as the public-school novel, the Cambridge novel and the spy novel, it is best appreciated by people who have an affinity for such things, but really, anyone with a tas ...more
Sep 02, 2013 Ensiform rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Fry is a very funny comic actor, in Blackadder and the TV version of Bertie & Jeeves, among others. This debut novel concerns a young lad at a prep school, who later (or is he lying?) becomes a street prostitute and then, under the tutelage of his supremely arch and worldly mentor at Cambridge, becomes involved in an international espionage drama, which turns out to be not at all what it seems – more than once.

Although Fry writes some sharp and funny dialogue, this book never really decides
Feb 26, 2009 Rae rated it really liked it
Who says you can't read smut and improve your vocabulary at the same time? Although I'm not sure how well "bottomite" will serve at Scrabble...
Nov 10, 2015 Gearóid rated it really liked it
Took a while to get into but very funny!
Dec 23, 2012 Ed rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Stephen Fry should stick to acting. The Liar is a valiant effort, and it is clear Fry is well versed in 'significant' english literary tropes...but this is far from making him a good writer. The construction of the story is as sickeningly 'clever' as the main character but ultimately also just as superficial and empty...and in contrast to the main character also kind of sloppy. Fry uses time-worn devices to confuse, obscure and misdirect--effective for what turns out to be a ha-ha-got-you spy no ...more
Aug 19, 2010 E rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, favorites
Loved, loved, loved it! And I can see where others wouldn't.

The dialogue reads like white-water rafting. The story-telling tantalizes and satisfies like the tongue-in-cheek sex scenes (no pun intended?) that work themselves onto every third page. And the hero, Adrian, should be the sort of character I detest, the kind that ruins the whole book for me. But the near perfect collage that are his lies and truths, his desires and apathies, yanks at every sense until "smitten" sounds too gentle a desc
Oct 14, 2013 Zorena rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, thriller, glbt
I find it fitting that I started my reading challenge with Mr. Fry and am closing it out with one of his books. For a debut novel this is remarkable but then again so is the man that wrote it. It is every bit as witty and charming as the man himself. Which to me reinforces the veiled autobiographical nature of it.

If you want a fun romp with a thriller basis this book is for you at least until it switches genres. Unfortunately it tries to be too many other genres at the same time but one thing it
Jr Bacdayan
Jan 26, 2013 Jr Bacdayan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Not one word of the following is true." Stephen Fry started out his book with this proclamation. I've always loved British Humor and quite frankly, I've always liked Stephen Fry so I had great expectations for this book. I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I was rather quite surprised. I didn't expect it to be this good. Adrian Healey the protagonist, a modern Oscar Wilde type (who is also a compulsive liar, hence the title) is so witty, so charmingly smart (well, most of the characters are indeed ...more
Feb 22, 2012 Filip rated it liked it
If I hadn't read "Moab is my Washpot" before reading "The Liar", I would probably have enjoyed it more. As it is, this book now seemed to be an odd mix of two separate books: an addition to Fry's school years autobiography, and a camp espionage caper. Not unlike Oscar Wilde, the author sprinkles bon mots throughout the text. The recondite (!) vocabulary is sometimes exhilarating, sometimes tiring, typical for the "Look mama, no hands.." mentality of a new author keen to prove his virtuosity. On ...more
Sep 11, 2007 Allison rated it liked it
Love love love Stephen Fry but this one was a little hard to follow. I think I got 90% of the story but there were some very confusing bits. Even so, his writing is wonderful.
Timothy Hinkle
Part of the fun of realizing that a novel's narrator is unreliable is that the whole structure of the book becomes a puzzle—which are the bits that we ought to believe? Fry (or, I suppose, whoever the book's narrator is meant to be) insists from the beginning, however, that this is not the game that he's playing, claiming that "Not one word of the following is true."

So, what actually is the game? Is Fry aiming for a certain effect, or is this just a lazily tossed-off first novel which fails to h
Feb 03, 2011 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who aren't afraid of naughty language
After reading the unabridged version, I've decided this is one of my favorite books.
Fry stylistically jumps around in his narrative in order to add the feel of disunion with reality. Adrian, Fry's out-of-touch, flamboyant, attention-seeking miscreant of a protagonist, is one of the most wonderfully amiable and relate-able characters in modern literature, because we don't like to think he is. In one way or another, we're all like Adrian. Estranged, lonely people who just want to be /liked/. Who j
Aug 14, 2013 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This novel is so many things at once - a British public school pastiche, a coming-of-age novel, an espionage thriller, a saddening commentary on life, yet at once a manifesto for everyone who's ever felt out of the ordinary, a heart-breakingly true account of the madness of being young and in love, and so on. I adored Adrian from the first, laughed out loud about 50 % of the total time I spent reading this book (which amounts to little over five or six hours, as I ripped through it). I do think ...more
Miss Bookiverse
The first half of the book deals with the protagonist's teenage years which are quite bizarre but rather interesting. After that the story turns into some weird crime-murder-something I didn't quite grasp. Also the change happened so quickly that I wondered whether I had skipped some tracks but I hadn't. So first part good, second part bleh.
Apart from that the use of words is wonderful and original, I had to marvel at quite a few sentences.
Dimitrije Vojnov
Jan 23, 2015 Dimitrije Vojnov rated it it was amazing
Pročitao sam debitantski roman Stivena Fraja LAŽLJIVAC. Iako sam znao da je Fraj višestruko talentovan umetnik, iskreno me je iznenadila njegova prozna veština koja je imala dosta koristi od njegovih širokih interesovanja i prepoznatljivog smisla za humor. Ovaj roman iz 1991. godine sigurno je shvaćen kao najava velikog literarnog dara. Reč je o pikarskom romanu sa jakim postmodernim slojevima u pogledu izraza, iako se na kraju, kada se sklope svi elementi ovog strukturalno složenog dela ipak ra ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Tony rated it liked it
THE LIAR. (1991). Stephen Fry. ***.
This was Fry’s first novel, and one which became a best-seller in England. How well it sold in this country I’m not sure. It is set within a university, and focuses on one of its students – one whom was described as too smart to teach. The novel comes off as sophomoric, with lots of “nod, nod…wink, wink” scenes. Fry was, after all, a comedian of radio and film fame. After about a hundred pages, I stopped. It became boring. The jokes were stale and the character
Dec 23, 2014 Davy rated it it was ok
I absolutely love Stephen Fry as an actor, whether it's in Blackadder, QI, Fry&Laurie or Kingdom ... but as an author, I'm far less fond of him so it seems. Or maybe it's just this book that I don't really like.

The entire book was simply too confusing for me. Hard to keep track of with all the jumping around in the timeline of the main protagonist's life. Plus, every so often there's an intermezzo between chapters where the characters are named after the clothes they are wearing. And as far
Jun 23, 2015 Eliza rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
This is a weird book. Stephen Fry is a genius. His autobiographies are great and he is a wizard with words. His humour is also great. But I do not think his novels are for me. I have to admit that I knew this book was partly based on his own life, so that might have coloured my reading of it.

I think the book could have been so much more. It could have been a great coming of age story. Instead it seems to lack coherence. I have to admit the ending was original, but it seems a plot filler instead
Aug 14, 2010 Natasha rated it liked it
Okay, I am not sure who to rate this one.

I really LIKE Stephen Fry as a person and actor and I find his writing very amusing and pleasant to read. But this story? I do not know. It seemed like in the middle of the book he just switched the plot - from the story of the main character, Adrien, his childhood and adolescence and what he had been up to, his sexuality and adventures with other guys.. to some criminal espionage story. That was weird, and as I am not a big fan of espionage plots, I did
Steve Mitchell
Aug 01, 2011 Steve Mitchell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Adrian Healy is a chronic liar. You can always tell when he is lying by the simple fact that his lips are moving. We follow Healy’s exploits through private school where toast and buggery are the order of the day culminating in an underground magazine and expulsion. Following this disgrace he finds himself in Piccadilly turning tricks as a rent boy and being caught by the police with enough Bolivian Marching Powder to see him safely incarcerated at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a couple of years. F ...more
Feb 25, 2009 Guy rated it it was ok
Fry bezit een benijdenswaardige combinatie van humor en eruditie die ik onweerstaanbaar vind. Het is een combinatie die voor mij het meest tot uiting komt buiten zijn rol als acteur/komiek en auteur. Begin jaren negentig was ik fan van A Bit Of Fry And Laurie en ik pikte graag een aflevering van Blackadder mee, maar ik vind hem nog boeiender in zijn recentere uitstappen, zoals de documentaires The Secret Life Of The Manic Depressive en HIV and Me (toevallig deze week op tv). Het leukste en ontsp ...more
Dec 31, 2013 BrokenTune rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
(Review first posted on Booklikes - .)

This is such a first novel. It has all the aspiration of a first novel, complete with an author who can write - and we KNOW he can write.

Unfortunately, the main character of this one - Adrian - is a bit of a bore, who lives up to every imaginable cliche associated with a public school boy, and the plot of The Liar only serves to confirm Adrian's lack of ingenuity. But that of course is the point. Adrian has to be a f
Sep 16, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-other
I wish I could give 3.5 stars on this thing. I suppose it's closer to 4 than 3, but I'd like the option. Honestly, I don't think I could tell you what this book was about. It certainly has a plot, but much of the time I wasn't sure exactly where I was chronologically, geographically, or truth-versus-lie-ally.

I kind of feel like it's not the plot you're supposed to be into here. What I loved were the chuckle out-loud one liners and the loveable characters. I enjoyed Adrian's waffling between trut
Sep 01, 2008 Trevor rated it liked it
Shelves: literature, humour
I need to start by saying that I think this man is a God, which does seem to be the standard opening play in any discussion of Stephen Fry by at least one person in the room. If, in this case, that person needs to be me, well, so be it. This is his first novel and although there were parts of it that had me making the kind of snorting sounds that could all too easily have had people thinking I was suffering from a terribly debilitating illness – mostly I don’t think it worked. It pains me to say ...more
Jenn Thorson
Feb 04, 2015 Jenn Thorson rated it liked it
Technically, I did not finish this book; I waved the white flag and surrendered. I'm not certain if my problem was the book or me. My sense is that it was a little of both. While Fry is intelligent and witty, I felt like the book was based so thoroughly on scenes from perhaps Fry's own life that it made it almost impossible to give the plot any kind of real progress or momentum. Picking the book up and putting it down again for even a short time made it hard to remember what had been accomplishe ...more
Apr 24, 2010 Bournemouth_book_club rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Bournemouth_book_club by: book club member
Shelves: blue
I read this for my book club. I have yet to hear what the rest of the group feel. This was just my personal experience.

I was expecting more. The plot never seemed to develop in a way I would find pleasing or satisfying. It chopped and turned quite a lot - jumping between time periods, between characters and there was so much dialogue it was often hard to understand who was talking and when.

I was expecting the plot to develop and thicken, and then create a more crashing climax. Instead I felt th
Jasmine Woods
Sep 17, 2013 Jasmine Woods rated it really liked it
I would really love to describe this book as a sort of mad cross between Kurt Vonnegut and Enid Blyton but that would be doing it a dreadful mis-service, partly because those sort of descriptions are incredibly lazy but also because it doesn't quite do it justice. But it does somehow manage to combine Vonnegut's over-blown, almost genre plotlines and his non-linear approach to story-telling within Blyton's public school setting. There were two serious mis-steps for me, one was that parts of the ...more
Agent X
Jan 05, 2016 Agent X rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult, crime-thriller
This book is great! The setting, the characters, the story - everything! I have especially fallen in love with Adrian Healey himself, who I thinks is quite brilliant the whole book through.
He and I have a lot in common, even though my lies seldom reach his height, and I think that is one reason why I like him so much - I kind of understand him a bit. Then we also have the fact that he doesn't mind screwing boys, which is one great advantage as I'm a hopeless fangirl of (almost) every relationsh
May 08, 2014 Carla rated it really liked it
Funny and risque, as I would expect from Stephen Fry. I've never met such a likable liar as Adrian - he's such a brilliant character. He cultivates a social mask, of someone wordly, audacious and charming, and he does it so well, that even he seems to have forgotten where the facade ends and he begins. This just seems to make him more intriguing, and just as you think you have caught a glimpse of the real person behind the mask, its revealed as just another part of his persona.

I found the timeli
Barry Pierce
Sep 28, 2014 Barry Pierce rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century
This is Stephen Fry's first book and for a first book it is brilliant! Now, not every part of the book is brilliant. The cricket match near the end was dull (like most cricket matches) and the italic "chapters" between each chapter are very confusing until the end where it all comes together like a slightly dysfunctional dream. Adrian Healey is just a brilliant character. I wish I knew someone like him, how fun that would be! Some pieces are a bit graphic e.g. Adrian and the nurse. However they ...more
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Stephen John Fry is an English comedian, writer, actor, humourist, novelist, poet, columnist, filmmaker, television personality and technophile. As one half of the Fry and Laurie double act with his comedy partner, Hugh Laurie, he has appeared in A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Jeeves and Wooster. He is also famous for his roles in Blackadder and Wilde, and as the host of QI. In addition to writing fo ...more
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“I think Eros should be dirty. In Greek legend, as I'm sure you are aware, he fell in love with the minor deity Psyche. It was the Greek way of saying that, in spite of what it may believe, Love pursues the Soul, not the body; the Erotic desires the Psychic. If Love was clean and wholesome he wouldn't lust after Psyche.” 29 likes
“My first meeting with you only confirmed what I first suspected. You are a fraud, a charlatan and a shyster. My favourite kind of person, in fact.” 29 likes
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