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The Patron Saint of Liars

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  35,946 ratings  ·  3,443 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)
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Popular Answered Questions
Joy Drinnon No! There won't be much to discuss except why anyone would love this woman enough to put up with her nonsense.
Madeline As another reader noted, Patchett does not usually wrap things up with a happily-ever-after ending. Although I sometimes wish to know what happens nex…moreAs another reader noted, Patchett does not usually wrap things up with a happily-ever-after ending. Although I sometimes wish to know what happens next, I also like to speculate from what I have learned of the characters and their lives to imagine what they would do next, what they have learned about themselves, and what we can learn from them.

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Average rating 3.82  · 
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Chelsea Cripps
May 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Deborah Edwards
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: personal-faves
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
Jul 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Bel Canto" was sooo amazing (drop-everything-&-read-now fantastic)I just had to review the writer's earliest work (just as I did with M. Chabon). "The Patron Saint of Liars" is a bit tepid, about a place for pregnant girls that used to be a hotel and miracles and family secrets. Ann Patchett is religious and tries to inject this, her first work, with lots of godly goodness and extra (not extraneous) sensitivity. & her characters, though fully-fleshed and complete, have seemingly simple psycholo ...more
yes, i've read exactly one ann patchett book. yes, i would give my life for ann patchett.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it liked it
The Patron Saint of Liars is a story about a young woman who leaves her life to head to St. Elizabeth's, a home for unwed mothers on the other side of the country. The story is told in three parts, in chronological order: first by Rose, the young woman, then by Son, the groundskeeper at St. Elizabeth's, and finally, by Rose's daughter, Cecilia.

I enjoyed Rose's portion the most, although the likability of her character waned for me as the story progressed. Her portion was engaging and got me hoo
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Jan 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Holly Booms Walsh
Aug 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Megan Baxter
Dec 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the third Ann Patchett book I've read. Of the other two, the novel I really disliked, and the memoir I found only so-so. They weren't enough to put her on my do-not-read list, but for authors that I only like a bit, I tend to figure that if I don't like them by the end of the third book, it's not going to change, and I can gratefully set them aside. That's where we were starting this book. I was expecting this to be my last. Now she has a reprieve.

Note: The rest of this review has been w
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Patron Saint of Liars is Ann Patchett's debut novel. It is a novel about people, an intriguing places and full of secrets and lies. This well written novel is told through the eyes of three characters. Firstly, Rose who is an expert at leaving, even through she is with you, Son (Wilson), the handyman who marries Rose and Cecilia the daughter. I enjoyed this story but did not become engaged or understand Rose and her actions. Maybe the author wanted Rose to remain mysterious to the reader.
Jul 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, lit-fic
I hate books like this. Ones that start out so promising, and then crap out halfway through. Like they get lost in the swirl of it all and then just flush themselves down the toilet in despair.

At it's most basic, The Patron Saint of Liars is about leaving. The blurb on the back cover of the novel is misleading. It makes it seem like Rose is the main character, when in fact, we lose touch with her halfway through, when she becomes a shadow of the character we've been reading about for 165 pages.
LeAnne: GeezerMom
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
ON SALE TODAY FOR $2.99.... get it if you like darkish, quirky characters where lies (obviously, as in the title) play their own role.

It's been forever since I read this, so forgive the short shrift. The story is set primarily at a home for unwed mothers out in the countryside. Nuns run the show with the help of a groundskeeper and others who are as important to the story as the girls who spend several emotional months here, delivering life and then leaving.

Hiding pregnancy and hiding paternity
Lewis Weinstein
Apr 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-general
I stopped after about 50 pages ... it is very well written but the characters and the story were of no interest to me ... many people, including my wife, loved it
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
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How did I never get around to reading this before? What a mistake, on my part. I've read (and really enjoyed) almost all of Patchett's work over the years (OK, for whatever reason, The Magician's Assistant didn't speak to me, but that was the exception), even since becoming enamored with Bel Canto.... I wish I'd found this and read it sooner. I found it to be ... just about perfect ... and well constructed ... and emotive ... and ... rich ... and sparse but elegant ... and ... sad and poignant, ...more
Feb 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Rose, a young wife in 1968, realizes that she does not want to be married on the same day she learns that she is pregnant. So, she gets into her car and drives across the country to a lovely home for unwed mothers without even a note to her husband. Soon it is clear that she possesses a quiet strength and a gift for cooking that the nuns who run the home, the fatherly handy-man and the other girls come to rely on. But, the quiet strength is a wall behind which to hide who she is. The novel is di ...more
May 08, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.

The Patron Saint of Liars is my third book by Ann Patchett, and I find her novels tend to hold me fast while I am reading them but sometimes leave me wondering what it was all about when it is over. I enjoyed reading this story about a young pregnant woman who flees her home in California for an unwed mother’s home in Kentucky. What makes her unusual is that she is not unwed, she has a husband who is good to her and loves her. To the very end of the novel, I could not ever grasp exactl
Dec 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 29, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Fred Forbes
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ann Patchett has always been one of my favorites - both for her writing and for her role as an independent bookstore owner - setting up Parnassus books when both Borders and Barnes & Noble abandoned Nashville as "not profitable enough". What I have noticed in this (her first) as well as in other works is that her writing disappears and one finds oneself pulled into the story and moving through it as if part of it. I paused for a moment to see if I could determine why this happens and it dawned o ...more
May 27, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't really satisfied with this story. I was not sympathetic to the main character, Rose at all and never got to the point where I could understand her actions. The author didn't really give any reasons for why Rose acted the way she did. I just didn't like her. The story kind of plodded along, and we are left with the people that Rose left as casualties along the way. Not a bad story, but one I was never able to become invested in.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I just love Ann Patchett’s writing style. It’s immersive and I live and breathe with her characters. Set in a home for unmarried mothers in the 1960s, this is a great if sober read. It changes character perspectives which I don’t think worked as I loved the first half when it was all about Rose. Still a solid 4 star read though.
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A few days ago I finished Ann Patchett’s first novel, written in 1992. Since then, I have been thinking about why I loved this book as much as I did.

Most of the reasons have to do with personal connections. It's a girls’ story, colored by Catholicism and hopeful signs from God (for which I, too, have asked many times, especially in my early years.) Part of the setting’s time is the same year that I graduated from (my Catholic, all-girls) high school; the setting’s place, a home for unwed mothers
AJ LeBlanc
Dec 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
I have been a fan of Ann Patchett for some time & have enjoyed her books but had never read her debut novel. What a great way to end my 2015 reading!
This is a story about a young woman named Rose, she lives in California in the 60's, she marries a man but is never really happy. The only thing that seems to make her happy is driving, she loves taking little road trips. One day ( for reasons I cannot post due to it being a spoiler) Rose takes off on a long trip & ends up in Kentucky at a Catholic
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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

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