Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Patron Saint Of Liars by Ann Patchett

In the 1960's, it was still a family disgrace if a woman got pregnant outside of matrimony.  With abortion an illegal operation, women were forced into marriages which had little chance of survival or they disappeared for six months or so, supposedly to visit an aunt or travel somewhere.  In reality, they entered homes for unwed mothers which were set up to allow the woman to stay during her pregnancy.  The baby was taken from her right after birth and given to adoptive parents.

St. Elizabeth's is such a home.  It was in Kentucky and the girls that came there came from all over the United States.  They formed friendships but as soon as the baby arrived, the girls left hoping that chapter of their lives was closed. 

Rose was a different case.  She was married but decided that life with her husband was a mistake and that she just didn't love him.  She left California without a word one day and drove across country to St. Elizabeth's.  Rose didn't tell anyone she was married.  She just let everyone assume her story was the same as the other girls.  Also, unlike the others, Rose didn't leave and didn't give up her baby.  She helped in the kitchen and after her baby's birth, stayed on to cook for everyone.  She married Son, the man who helped with all the repairs and upkeep of the home and they raised the baby, Cecelia together.

Ann Patchett's forte as an author is creating believable characters, giving them backstories and telling their lives in a way that the reader wants to continue to see what happens next.  In this novel, she has created three such characters, Rose, Son and Cecelia.  Each tells the story from their own perspective and the reader soon grows to know more than any one of the characters do about their own lives since the other character's viewpoints are also clear to them while opaque to the other characters.  This book is recommended for readers of literary fiction.

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