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The Liar Paperback – 5 Aug 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (5 Aug. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099457059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099457053
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Fry is a leading light in film, theatre, radio and television the world over, receiving accolades in spades and plaudits by the shovel. As a writer, producer, director, actor and presenter he has featured in works as varied and adored as the movie 'Wilde', the TV series 'Blackadder' and 'Jeeves and Wooster', the sketch show 'A Bit of Fry and Laurie', the panel game 'QI', the radio series 'Fry's English Delight', Shakespeare's Globe's celebrated 2012 production of 'Twelfth Night' (as Malvolio) and documentaries on countless subjects very close to his heart.

He is also the bestselling author of four novels - 'The Stars' Tennis Balls', 'Making History', 'The Hippopotamus' and 'The Liar' - as well as two volumes of autobiography - 'Moab is My Washpot' and 'The Fry Chronicles', which published in six unique editions that combined to sell over a million copies. His third volume of autobiography, 'More Fool Me', is published in September 2014.

Product Description

Review

"A quite brilliant first novel" (Sunday Times)

"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)

"Sublime" (Cosmopolitan)

Book Description

The brilliant and outrageous debut novel from British actor, comedian, author, presenter, journalist and national treasure, Stephen Fry.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Davison on 24 April 2011
Format: Paperback
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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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. M. Fernandez VINE VOICE on 27 April 2009
Format: Paperback
In a well-crafted story, the threads are carefully laid out as the chapters go by, and the reader wonders how on earth they can be drawn together. At the climax of the book, the author deftly ties in one after another, and looking back from the viewpoint at the end of the book, the reader can see how each one had its necessary place in the complete tapestry and mutters, sotto voce, "Of course! How could it have been otherwise?"

This is a less well-crafted story, in my opinion. The threads are laid out - each charming and tantalising - and then in the last two chapters, a handful of the most promising are hastily tangled together, with a couple of new ones thrown in for good measure. And at the end, I was left muttering, "Oh. Is that it, then?"

That's not to say that the writing isn't of a high quality. Stephen Fry is a polymath and a genius - as would have been known by any followers of the now ancient "Fry and Laurie", even before the advent of QI. His writing reflects his deep wells of knowledge, and does an excellent job of capturing the flavour of a particular strand of public school/Cambridge character. I blush as I read back my own lines written in response to his book. And though I come from a very different position from Fry philosophically, he is somebody I like and respect.

I wasn't particularly shocked by the explicit language and sexual references, though I suspect the blatant advertising of gay sexuality by a public figure may well be part of the reason for the book's widespread critical approval - after all, who within the media would want to appear to react against such a book?

But despite the 4-5 star writing, my frustration with the plot left me disappointed. The book is fine as a comic novel (which to be fair may have been all that was intended) but came close, and then fell short, of being much more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Tyler on 5 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Stephen Fry's `The Liar' is a difficult book to get a handle on and it's pretty clear that this is done on purpose by the author - what is truth and what is a lie? The book itself is intelligent and well written as you would expect from someone like Fry. However, intelligence can easily go over some people's heads. In the case of `The Liar' some of the elements of the book are lost in the non linear format. The book is told during the main character's, Adrian Healey, present and various moments in his past. Once you get used to the chapters moving around in time things do start to be clear, unfortunately, this may come too late for some people.

Healey is not a particularly likable character as he is a compulsive liar, but I found him interesting to read about. The book seems to move from an apparent autobiographical style to a more fictional one. The area that may put off most people is Fry's description of Healey school days at an all boys boarding school. Fry is not a man to shy away from the sexualisation of youth and he does not here. The book is quite lurid, but I imagine anyone attempting to read a book by Fry would already be prepared for this. Overall, I found the book interesting and funny in moments. The irregular narrative structure does work, however it fails to mask the fact that the actual story itself is not that good.
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