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Liars and Saintsby Maile Meloy
Synopses & 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 plot and sensibility....Maile Meloy is a truly compelling discovery."
With her first novel, Liars and Saints, Meloy more than delivers on the promise of her earlier work. This richly textured, emotionally charged novel tells a story of sex and longing, love and loss, and of the deceits that can lie at the heart of family relationships.
Set in California, Liars and Saints follows four generations of the Catholic Santerre family from World War II to the present, as they navigate a succession of life-altering events — through the submerged emotion of the fifties, the recklessness and excess of the sixties and seventies, and the reckonings of the eighties and nineties. In a family driven by jealousy and propriety as much as by love, an unspoken tradition of deceit is passed from generation to generation, and fiercely protected secrets gradually drive the Santerres apart. When tragedy shatters their precarious domestic lives, it takes astonishing courage and compassion to bring them back together.
By turns funny and disturbing, irreverent and profound, Liars and Saints is a masterful display of Maile Meloy's prodigious gifts, and of her penetrating insight — into an extraordinary American family and into the nature of human love.
"In this exquisitely rendered novel, Meloy brings her incisive intelligence to the page once again, reminding us that our actions and inactions, admissions and omissions, travel from one generation to the next, and that our past travels with us." Elizabeth Strout, Author of Amy and Isabelle
[E]ngaging but slapdash first novel...In Liars and Saints, Meloy has so much time and biology to keep track of that her crisp writing goes slack and generic in quite a number of places....My sense of Meloy's talents makes me think she'd be wiser to write next about six months in Montana instead of fifty years in and out of California. She's a good writer, but I'm agnostic as to whether she's a novelist." Thomas Mallon, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"Liars and Saints is a surehanded little first-novel by a sly, knowledgeable, no-nonsense young writer who will not permit herself a single exaggeration but who nonetheless packs quite a punch. It is a surehanded little first-novel that, for all its brevity, happens to disclose half a century of a middle-class Catholic family's disappointed expectations. The quiet, unastonished precision with which Maile Meloy depicts the extent to which everything now goes haywire in so-called ordinary American life is an impressive achievement, literary and otherwise." Philip Roth
"The alternating points of view of eight main characters shine with authenticity....The rich emotional chiarascuro and fine psychological insight of this haunting novel mark Meloy as a writer of extraordinary talent." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Meloy follows four tangled generations of the Santerre family, French Canadian Catholics who settle in Southern California during World War II. That sounds like a saga, yet the book is only 260 pages long — and yet again you don't feel you've missed a thing." The New York Times
"A multigenerational first novel told with remarkable compression and precision." Kirkus Reviews
The prize-winning young author of a critically acclaimed short story collection makes her full-length fiction debut in this richly textured, emotionally charged novel about four generations of an American family.
About the Author
Maile Meloy's short story collection, Half in Love, was a New York Times Notable Book in 2002. She won the 2001 Aga Khan Prize for best story in The Paris Review. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker and Best New American Voices and has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. She lives in California.
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