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The Liar [Paperback]

Stephen Fry
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 1992
Stephen Fry's first novel involves the fabrication of a lost pornographic novel by Charles Dickens and a number of other indecent inventions. The tale begins when a public schoolboy inadvertently observes the murder of a Hungarian violinist.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd; New edition edition (3 Sep 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099421267
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099421269
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 11.2 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,161,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Fry is one of Britain's national treasures and his television appearances include 'A Bit Of Fry and Laurie', 'Jeeves and Wooster', 'Blackadder', 'QI' and 'Kingdom'. His film roles include 'Peter's Friends' and 'Wilde'; and in the realm of television, the Emmy-award-winning 'The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive'. As a writer, he best known for his novel The Liar as well as his acclaimed autobiography Moab Is My Washpot, and his is the famous voice of the Harry Potter audio books.

Product Description


"The Liar is hilarious -- page after page of the most outrageous and often filthy jokes, delicious conceits, instant, brilliant ripostes that would only occur to ordinary mortals after days of teeth-grinding lunacy." -- "Literary Review""Brilliantly entertaining and consistently outrageous." -- "Daily Mail""From the Trade Paperback edition." --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

'Brilliant' Sunday Times

'Hilarious' Literary Review

'Sublime' Cosmopolitan

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure Genius! 24 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Having thoroughly enjoyed Stephen Fry's autobiography, "Moab is my Washpot", I decided to read "The Liar", his first novel, which was written before "Moab". I'm glad I read the books in that order, as many of the events in "The Liar" are taken from Fry's own public school experiences. I had a clearer understanding of situations and characters in "The Liar" because they identified strongly with events that had taken place in Fry's life. I found this book very funny, 100% due to the author's unimitable, very wry and witty "public school" style of writing. His descriptions of events and types of people are so 'spot-on', you can't help but laugh and think how accurate it all is. Great stuff! If this is Stephen Fry, then I'm hooked!
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Almost Interesting... 22 Oct 2008
I should preface this by saying 'I love Stephen Fry.' Despite being a heterosexual male, I would quite happily marry him just so I could enjoy a lifetime of his mild manners and witty repartees.

This being said, since I discovered Amazon's 'review' function I've tried to dissect books as objectively as possible. Therefore, I have to confess that The Liar was slightly disappointing for me.

Don't get me wrong: It's fantastically written. Fry's mastery of the language is quite simply art in motion, and the insight the work provides into the man himself is fascinating.

However... it's not very good, really.

I'm all for unconventional plot devices and disregarding standard narrative flow, but Fry's attempts at a disjointed style are immensely unsatisfying. Jumping between past and present interrupts the characters' natural development, and makes the story hard to follow. It also makes it hard to keep track of the sheer number of characters that Fry throws in.

Another issue I have is that Fry doesn't utilise his protaganist's compulsive lying tendencies enough. The parts where the character is lying - and is revealed to be as such at the end - are removed from the plot, so when his falsehoods are later revealed it is a massive anti-climax, as they have no bearing on what has actually occured during the novel.

Overall, I feel that this is a weak first attempt. It is certainly worth reading, but Fry has written far superior works to this. Therefore, I can't really recommend it, but will instead advise purchasing 'Moab is my Washpot', which is in essence a more impressive version of this. It also has the advantage of being a true autobiography, instead of vaguely wielding the autobiographical elements that make The Liar appealing. Or, if you'd rather read Fry's best fictional work, go for The Hippopotamus: although a strong stomach is required to get through it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a mixed bag 24 April 2011
When I was trying to write a novel ten years ago I thought it was immensely cute and interesting to refer to characters obliquely, rather than explaining clearly who and what I was talking about. Stephen Fry does this throughout The Liar in the italicised accounts of the hero and his mentor on a spying adventure. In fact it is not interesting - it merely confuses and irritates.

Against this one has to place the magnificent main opening chapter set in Adrian's public school. An adolescent crush has never been expressed in more fabulously funny purple prose:

"Cartwright of the sapphire eyes and golden hair, Cartwright of the Limbs and Lips: he was Petrarch's Laura, Milton's Lycidas, Catullus's Lesbia, Tennyson's Hallam, Shakespeare's fair boy and dark lady, the moon's Endymion. Cartwright was Garbo's salary, the National Gallery, he was cellophane: he was the tender trap, the blank unholy surprise of it all and the bright golden haze on the meadow: he was honey-honey, sugar-sugar, chirpy chirpy cheep-cheep and his baby-love: the voice of the turtle could be heard in the land, there were angels dining at the Ritz and a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square."

The novel then hops around between distant past and more recent past, with varying degrees of success.

If only Stephen Fry had stuck to school boys and rent boys, the subjects about which he writes most convincingly, he could have out-Waughed Evelyn Waugh.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A battle to read 10 Dec 2013
I desperately wanted to love this book, I love Fry and looked forward to reading it. Sadly, I found the humour boring and pretentious and never shocking. I couldn't warm to any of the characters: I agree with another reviewer ithat consequently I then just didnt care what happened to them. I found the italicised chapters, which punctuate the main chapters, almost unreadable. The only thing I liked about them was the idea of dehumanising characters and referring to them by their clothes.

Fry knows he's being pretentious and I'm sure this is supposed to be part of the charm of the book but it just left me bored and battling through chapters to get to the end and mainly to try and see the point of the awful italicised chapters. I lost the book about 2/3 of the way through and am not going to try and look for it.

Target market: horny, gay, teenage, public school boy borders with excellent vocabularies.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not great 2 Feb 2013
I am a big fan of Fry, the man is almost a nation institution now. I had read his biography last year, and though that it was great.

However, this book, I just could not get on with. I couldn't get the characters, the plot was not twisted, it was muddled, and it took 200 pages or so for me to begin to enjoy it.

I think that it was supposed to full of erudite wit and humour, but it just washed over me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Fry – The Liar | Review
The Liar is Stephen Fry’s first novel, and while it’s not as good as some of his later work, it is a good start and it shows some of his later promise. Read more
Published 2 months ago by
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Product
On of the best authors ever so really enjoyed this book and will definitely be reading more in the future
Published 2 months ago by Michael Repton
1.0 out of 5 stars Jimbo Headache
I managed three pages. Possibly perseverance could have led me into a promised land, but this seemed unlikely. Humour seemed heavily disguised.
Published 3 months ago by jimbo
5.0 out of 5 stars books
imam a great fan of Stephen Fry, I already have some of hisbooks in paperback, this means I can read him when I am traveling using by using the kindle
Published 4 months ago by MR T
1.0 out of 5 stars Really disappointed
Read and enjoyed the Stars Tennis Balls: love Fry's reading voice and so bought this one without looking at any reviews. Would that I hadn't. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Maureen Lister
5.0 out of 5 stars A***
This book is a brilliant read. Very funny. Just what you would expect form the one of the masters of comedy.
Published 7 months ago by Crystal
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
The plot is fantastic and ingeniously written, with twists and turns that will have you starving for more. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Scott Sanders
4.0 out of 5 stars witty but smug
Sometimes I find Stephen Fry amusing but at other times I get annoyed by his smart-alec-know-it-all, smug remarks. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Stephen Fry's first novel and will probably turn out to be a classic. Bought it for my son-in-law for Christmas.
Published 19 months ago by B. May
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's Egg
The good parts are very good. But the bad parts are really rather horrid. The reader should persevere. Most of the disagreeable bits are early in the book. Read more
Published on 26 July 2012 by C. E. Utley
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