Liars and Saints
By Maile Meloy
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9780743244350, 272pp.)
Publication Date: May 20, 2003
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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.
Maile Meloy is the author of the story collection Half in Love and the novel Liars and Saints, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize. Meloy's stories have been published in The New Yorker, and she has received The Paris Review's Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rosenthal Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in California.
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.
Elizabeth Strout Author of Amy and Isabelle 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.