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Liars and Saints
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Liars and Saints

3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  1,728 ratings  ·  242 reviews
With her 2002 debut story collection, Half in Love, prizewinning author Maile Meloy drew acclaim from readers and reviewers across the country. "Here is an author who knows how to jump-start the reader's interest," raved The New York Times. "Wonderfully wise beyond the author's years," said the Chicago Tribune. "What distinguishes Meloy is her insistence on old-fashioned p...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published November 1st 2007 by Scribner (first published 2003)
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Ben Babcock
Ever anticipate a book, then sit down and read the first chapter and get a sinking feeling as you realize your expectations are most certainly going to be dashed? Yeah, that's how Liars and Saints made me feel. Although it was already on my to-read list, I bumped it to the top because I intended to read it and then give it to a friend for her birthday. I think I'll be revising that plan to "read and donate to the library."

To be fair, Maile Meloy is a good writer. Liars and Saints is wonderfully...more
May 09, 2008 Leslie rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Catholics, Californians
I really wanted to give this book another star -- it was a hypnotizing, deeply engrossing read that I kept thinking about long after I finished it -- but for such a lean, sprinting narrative, there were too many operatic twists to sustain credibility. While I welcomed these at the beginning (who isn't riveted by family dysfunction?), the rapid pile-up of surprises made an otherwise moody, contemplative narrative seem more and more convoluted. The final deus ex machina (literally!) pulled it do...more
Maile Meloy's Liars and Saints snuck up on me. It's not a brash book. It does not force you to love it. It sits quietly with its hands folded in contemplation and waits for you to find what it is within it that moves you. And when you are moved by this book,you are most certainly moved.

Told in three parts (Part I about temptation--both resisting and giving in to it, Part II about an attempt at redemption through service or sacrifice and Part III about homecoming), Liars and Saints follows the S...more
What a beautiful book. Meloy writes the most unbelievable sentences; every thought is so well-crafted and simple that it makes you feel like you're breathing the story instead of actually reading a book. I really cannot begin to recommend this book highly enough and I'm not even sure why. Where else can you find a writer who can cover the entire childhood of a character in a single sentence and encapsulate that person's essence? It's BRILLIANT, is what it is, and I'm in awe of her. Absolutely in...more
There's a kind of historical survey quality to this book -- it's not very long, yet tracks the members of a single family through 40 or 50 years. So "big" events are trotted out to mark the passage of time -- WWII, Kennedy's assassination, and so forth. Sometimes the narrative feels a little condensed because of that scope, but the real interest of the novel lies in the interplay between individual choices and the larger familial patterns. Around 2/3 of the way through, there were some real surp...more
It's like watching a soap opera. You can get involved in the story line, but actually loose brain cells while reading it. Bubble gum for the mind.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
So rushed out to our used bookstore to find the new book by Maile Meloy. Naturally they did not have the book, but they did have her first novel, Liars and Saints. The book is amazing. I read it in 24 hours, 8 of which I sleeping.

My latest favorite quote defining writing is “Writing is answering questions.” I think maybe Meloy is trying to answer the question: What trajectory would the life and family of a woman born in the thirties, married a wonderful, human, and jealous husband traverse? Ever...more
The story takes place over 4 generation - starting with a young couple married during WW2. They are French Canadian and very catholic. There is much guilt over the marriage for the woman Yvette because she married against her father's wishes.

They have two girls - the oldest one gets pregnant in high school. Mom lies about the birth and raises the boy child as her own. She even tells her husband, Teddy it is his. She gets away with it because the baby is born while mother and daughter are in Fra...more
"Yvette had an over-the-shoulder smile like a pinup girl, and when the smile caught him right, it made it hard for Teddy to breathe. She had a chipped tooth on the right, a tiny chip you only noticed up close, and Teddy loved it. Even more, he loved the smile that forgot the chip was there. He wanted to kiss her teeth when he thought of it."

"Her darling baby brother, the one who had taught her what love was, and he treated her like a prying grown-up, which she guessed she was."

" had no rig...more
Stacy S.
I enjoyed reading this book. The ending was a bit hokey (the christmas dinner part) and not what I would have liked to have seen for this story. It's a book that follows a family through the ages and it really was special in the way that you gain an understanding and compassion for each character. It almost feels like you are also in their family. I know the dysfunction of it all put some people off, but I believe that most families do have quite a bit of dysfunction and so to me, it made the bo...more
This novel is the first work I have read by Maile Meloy, and after reading it, I am looking forward to her short story collection, "Both Ways is the Only Way I Want it." The novel follows five tumultuous generations of a 20th century Catholic family. Generally, I dislike multi-generational stories - I feel as if I can never get invested enough in one generation because it's on to the next. However, these generations are intermeshed in interesting ways. The characters are believable and dimension...more
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Pete Mcniff
Liars and Saints is by far the most interesting book I read this school year. It is a story about a Catholic American family living during World War II. The story starts with a married couple who are immigrants from France. The story takes place over 4 generations of this family. The second generation of the family are 2 girls and a boy. Then one of the daughters gets married and has one daughter. Clarissa (the mother) leaves her husband and goes to live out in Louisiana with her sister. When he...more
What to say? A very engrossing multigenerational saga of a large Catholic family that has none of the faults that "multigenerational saga" brings to mind--dynasties, scandals, insane kingly patriarchs, adultery, etc. etc.. Instead "Liars and Saints" works like a prism, moving from person to person, and not in order of age. The prose is so translucent you hardly notice its grace. But, relatedly, the style is perhaps too cool. (Think classic New Yorker minimalist stories, updated to the 21st centu...more
Ellen Noonan
The plot goes too far in the direction of a Lifetime movie at points, but the characters are beautifully drawn and her exploration of how different family members experience Catholocism over the course of their lives is wonderful and moving. And it's her first novel! Jaysus.
One of the blurbs on the cover of my edition of this book calls the family at the center of it extraordinary. I think the beauty of the book is that the family is quirky and has secrets, but not many more than most and not that much wierder than most. It took a while for the book to really engage me because Ms. Meloy's narrative voice is so quiet, but once it did I was pretty much hooked. The characters, even the minor ones, are fully realized and I recognized in them many traits that are simila...more
Meloy tells the complex story of the Santerre family over the course of about fifty years. She intricately weaves each character in and out of the story, seamlessly jumping from one family member to the next.
This debut novel, written in 2003, shares the complicated story spanning many decades of four generations of the Santerra family, moving from southern California to Louisiana and back west again. Their lives lived ethically, purposefully…or not…with suspicion, compassion, love and lust was made all the more compelling by Meloy’s juxtaposition of characters’ religious beliefs.

Filled with characters with deep commitments to a belief in God and to a Catholic faith as well as those firmly holding ag...more
It can be difficult to create character voices that are easy to distinguish, and most authors limit themselves to two, maybe three points of view per book for that exact reason. Maile Meloy went all in with her debut novel: she has seven. Moreover, these seven characters grow and change as the story progresses, and their voices change with them, never losing their individuality. That was actually my favorite thing about this book, how well the author wrote her characters and their imperfections,...more
This book came to me from a friend, who had been a school mate of the author in Helena. Simply put, this short novel is the story of several generations of a family, and their relationships with each other, with their love interests, and with God (or faith). What I really liked about this novel is that the story is told in chapters, AS chapters of the characters' lives as perceived by each character. The stories are interwoven, sometimes giving the same episode but told slightly differently by a...more
Having previously read Meloy's short stories, I had high expectations of this novel that were disappointed. I enjoy Meloy's stark but engaging style, and her short stories always hit me hard.
The novel seemed promising at first, but by the end of the book, the plot had become totally ridiculous. Every few pages revealed a new melodramatic twist that was extreme and laughable. I didn't really relish the weird and constant invocation of Catholicism. I was raised Catholic and now consider myself an...more
Jo Case
This is one of my favourite books (and authors). Maile Meloy is a gorgeous writer; every sentence is beautifully constructed, every image beautifully assembled. But she also creates wonderful characters - you care about their fates intensely.

I discovered Liars and Saints when I was working in a bookshop where we could import interesting-looking books from the US if not published locally. This had me scouring the review pages of US publications online during quiet moments, looking for new books a...more
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I've still not made my mind up exactly on how I feel about this book.
It's well written - the author is talented. AFter reading several romance novels in a row it was a joy to read denser sentences and less obvious plot turns. At the end of the book, though, part of me wondered "ultimately, what was this book trying to say?" IT's one of those cases where I wonder - am I not smart enough to get it, or am I looking for something that is not there.

The book follows a French Catholic family from Can...more
On the one hand this is a beach-read book about a family and their history, except that beach-reads tend not to involve incest [which is not as awful as it sounds and the narrative is very clear about its repercussions and the ripple effect]. It's not staggeringly special, it is slightly predictable in parts and not very much happens. But, on the other hand, it's actually a very precise and well-depicted portrait of a family in the middle of a series of crises because nothing gets resolved gener...more
Bobbie Darbyshire
Loved this novel, which gets movingly under the skin of a whole cast of members of an American family between the 1940s and the turn of the millennium. All sorts of goings on, both comic and tragic, make it a gripping read as well as a warm one. I picked it up a few years ago at a library redundant-stock sale. Published in GB in 2004, in good condition, what on earth makes this ‘redundant’ stock? It deserves to be read, not forgotten.
Apr 08, 2010 Kate rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Prodigal Children
Recommended to Kate by: My Father
An easy read full of interesting characters that tends to read like a soap-opera; unbelievable yet engaging at the same time.

It's about the Santerre family and tells the story from all of the main characters perspectives throughout the generations from WWII to the present.

Secrets are revealed and members of the family are forced to examine what they believe as individuals, when tragedy strikes. Through courage and compassion their love for each other is the only thing that can bring them back...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Enjoyed this book very much. A story of a family with many interesting secrets going through their lives wondering about the choices they made and the opportunities they passed up. Devout Catholic practices questioned by the younger family members.
I'm glad I didn't pay attention to some of the mediocre reviews because I would have let this novel sit on my shelf for another 3 years and not meeting these interesting characters.
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Maile Meloy was born in Helena, Montana, in 1972. A Family Daughter is her third book. Her short stories have been published in The New Yorker and The Paris Review. Her first story collection, Half in Love, received the Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters , the John C. Zacharis Award from Ploughshares, and the PEN/Malamud Award. Her first novel, Liars and Saint...more
More about Maile Meloy...
The Apothecary (The Apothecary, #1) Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It The Apprentices (The Apothecary, #2) Half in Love: Stories A Family Daughter

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