Liars and Saints was the first novel by Maile Meloy. It has been described by others as “pacy”. What pacy must mean is that it moves along at such a lick that the reader fails to engage with either plot or character. Meloy seems to be doing her best to avoid over description of events and dramatic scenes but the effect, for me at least, is a novel with not a single redeeming character. I’m not sure what her message is other than the fact that the lies/ties that bind family are too strong to break even if at times they seem rather elastic and irreparable. Family members in this saga go all over the US and the world as they experience war, romance and loss but at the end of the day it was all a bit ho hum. If truth be told I read it as the last thing I did before falling asleep mostly because the pace was so fast that a paragraph or two at a time were enough to set me off to sleep. The Iraq conflict was dealt with in two paragraphs, the Second World War in two pages – well you get the idea. The concept of Catholicism as a tacking thread through their lives might have been the message but to me it was mystifying why some characters were behaving as they did because lives were ruined by  decisions taken due to their religious beliefs. Meloy seems obsessed with beautiful people, as if beauty alone is enough to enthrall. Didn’t work for me, but it might work for you.

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