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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 1 July 2004
I read this after seeing it reviewed in the Daily Mail and am pleased it was selected by Richard and Judy because it's the sort of unshowy book which might have fallen through the cracks otherwise. It's misleading to call it a family saga because although it covers 50 years in the history of a family it is a fairly slim volume without a great panoramic sweep. It's beautifully written and the characters are completely convincing, from Yvette and Teddy down through the subsequent generations. Liars and Saints is about the confusions and turbulence and complications of family life, what a mess we often make of it but how we muddle through anyway. It reminded me a little of Alice Hoffman's books although the writing is not nearly so flowery. In short, I enjoyed it very much and look forward to reading more by this author.
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on 26 July 2004
I really enjoyed this book which I feel should be regarded as a light(ish) read. Albeit that the author does gallop along somewhat it doesn't detract, in my opinion, from the pure entertainment of the book. I had expected a story about dodgy catholic priests or the like but it's not at all like that and I found the interjection of the first character's journey of faith quite beautiful. EAch subsequent character has their own journey through life and I like the way the author develops them as they grow. A really nice book.
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on 6 July 2004
This is one of the finest and most compelling books I've read in a long time. I bought it due to the Richard & Judy recommendation and when I read the first chapter I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, fearing it might be an old-fashioned saga. But, 50 taut pages later, I realised there was a lot more to 'Liars and Saints' than just a saga. I was reminded a little of John Irving; the book explores a family that seems ordinary on the outside but is teaming with dysfunctional secrets that passes on its problems from one generation to the next. The writing is pared down, spare and beautiful. The way that the author shifts points of view and demonstrates the characters misunderstandings of each other is brilliant, and results in some of the deepest characterisation I've enjoyed in a long time.
Puzzlingly enough, when this book was picked for R&J it was described in the Guardian as being firmly 'lightweight entertainment' and a love story - perhaps because it was written by a woman. Nothing could be further from the truth; calling this 'light entertainment' is rather like calling Jonathan Franzen's 'The Correction' lad-lit. This is a finely crafted literary novel, and love is just one of many themes that it dissects in a detached but compassionate way. All in all, an excellent novel, and much better than Cecilia's Ahern's offering.
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on 2 November 2004
...However it didn't live up to the expectations. We are told that the family are haunted by the photographer's actions for years to come. It is never mentioned again!! The family ambles on through thick and thin and all kinds of sad happenings but it never really goes anywhere. I couldn't understand why they all hated each other. see if you can. Readable but certainly not a classic and one you can put down. Dissapointing.
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on 26 August 2004
I found this book to be gripping and I read it in 2 days. If you are a 'family' person and will be able to empathise with the characters complex family life, then you will enjoy this book. It moved along quickly (leaving me wanting more detail in some instances) and made me laugh and cry. A heart-warming, easy read.
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on 19 August 2005
The book although compelling in an "I've started so I'll finish way" for me never really went in very deep with any of the characters, for example the books lets you know that the sisters weren't very close and there seemed to be resentment, but you never really got to know why, similarily the feelings and narratives for the characters never seemed to explain what their real motivations were about. I expected a little more detail and depth.
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on 2 May 2005
This book is a 'nice read'. I found myself wanting to know what would happen, sympathising (or disliking where appropriate) with the characters, and generally doing everything one should with a good book. It's not ground-breaking, or heart-wrenching, it's sad at times, happy at others and, I found, a nice little book to read on holiday.
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on 21 August 2010
According to Helen Fielding, quoted on the front cover, this book is 'wise, witty and beautifully written,' and for once I see no reason to disagree, though that doesn't mean it's perfect.
We follow one family through several generations, from the marriage of Yvette and Teddy in California during the second world war, up to the end of the twentieth century. The drama comes from conflicts regarding religion (they are Catholic) and an unwanted teenage pregnancy, resulting in Yvette pretending that her elder daughter's baby is her own. I won't go into details and give too much away, other than to say that although the story is just about within the bounds of plausibility, I found a couple of the characters rather unlikely to say the least: the daughter Margot who gives her baby to her mother and never wants anything to do with him again, ever; and her grandson TJ, who asks philosophical questions about religion and death when he's only just started school. The rest of the cast are slightly less weird, though not exactly what you'd call normal.
Although it is all written in the third person, each chapter takes the viewpoint of one character, as in 'deep third'. Some chapters begin further back in time than the previous one finished, repeating an event but looking at it from another perspective, and I found this a little confusing at times, especially as there are so many characters to keep track of, some of them popping up after years of absence. Also I couldn't always remember who knew about which family secrets and who didn't: there's almost too much going on.
There is no real plot as such, just the story of these people's lives, and this is okay, but at times I found myself thinking, what point is she trying to make? That life is rarely easy? That relationships can be fraught? Although religion plays a big part in these people's lives, I was never sure if the author is pro or anti religion, as there are elements of both views. This isn't a criticism particularly: perhaps she doesn't have strong views and is simply commenting on what strange ideas people have.
This novel is a bit like an Anne Tyler story on steroids: extended over fifty-plus years, broader in scope but with big gaps between events. In fact Anne Tyler could have got several books out of this much potential material, and at times I did wonder if Ms Meloy wasn't being a bit too ambitious in scope while leaving out large chunks of the story. Having said all that, I enjoyed the novel and will seek out other work by the author, who is becoming highly regarded in her native US.
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on 5 April 2010
People were born, grew up and died. Women who wanted children couldn't and those that didn't got pregnant the first time they had sex. No mystery, no surprises, not funny or profoundly moving. Far from finding any depth to the characters, I thought they lurched through their lives doing very little of interest. A very dull read.
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on 22 July 2004
looked forward to reading this book when featured on Richard & Judy. However, contrary to the other rave reviews for this book, I was really disappointed. I struggled to complete it, thinking I must be wrong and something would "pop out" at me to keep my attention. This did not happen, and I heaved a sigh of relief when I finished it. Now I hopefully can get my teeth into a "good" read, not this slighty amateurish (in my opinion)and immature book.
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