Liars and Saints: A Novel
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A richly textured novel tells a story of sex and longing, love and loss, and of the deceit that can lie at the heart of family relationships. “Each chapter…has the seductive aura of a finely crafted story. Liars and Saints is instructive and bittersweet and yet somehow never nostalgic” (Los Angeles Times).
Set in California, Liars and Saints follows four generations of the Catholic Santerre family from World War II to the present. In a family driven as much by jealousy and propriety as by love, an unspoken tradition of deceit is passed from generation to generation. When tragedy shatters their precarious domestic lives, it takes astonishing courage and compassion to bring them back together.
By turns funny and disturbing, irreverent and profound, Liars and Saints is a masterful display of Maile Meloy’s prodigious gifts and of her penetrating insight into an extraordinary American family and into the nature of human love. “Meloy may be the first great American realist of the twenty-first century: The Santerres aren’t real but they feel like they are, and the reader will not soon forget them” (The Boston Globe).
late one night. “It isn’t true, Leo! It isn’t true!” her mother was crying, and Yvette got out of bed and tore downstairs to their bedroom. She threw herself at her father’s legs and said, “Leave her alone!” Her father had looked at her strangely, and said he was sorry, then carried her back to her room in his arms. “You weren’t supposed to leave,” Yvette said. “You were his wife, not his daughter.” “Oh, and I loved him!” her mother said. “You should have heard him beg for forgiveness. You’d
been home twice for Christmas, and once in the summer—only when Clarissa was coming. He’d never showed up unannounced. He got out of the car and stretched, and said he was driving home from Clarissa’s, and he’d stopped for a bathroom break and a drink. Yvette put aside her pruning shears and poured him a glass of orange juice. “The house looks great,” Jamie said, not looking at the house. “We have a girl who comes,” she said. She was glad to see Jamie, but she felt uneasy, as she always did.
Yvette had written him after his first furlough, on yellow paper in violet ink. In the letter she described the way her body looked when she rose from her bath, the water running from her legs, the look of her outstretched arm as she reached for a towel. In most of her letters he had to circle the words that were too scrawled to understand, so he could ask her about them later, but in this one he understood everything. The letter had infuriated Teddy because she didn’t know her own power. She
be a priest, but he had that kind of mind. The young teachers at his school adored him, too. “I’m not like the other kids,” he confided, when she had tucked him into bed on her last night there. “Sometimes I have to think harder.” “That’s fine,” she said. “It’s good to think hard.” “They all have grandmothers,” he said. “I’ve never had a grandmother before.” “But you have,” she said. “And you always will.” He looked unsure. “How old are you?” he asked. She laughed. “Seventy-six,” she said.
asked, raising his drained Bloody Mary glass. “Oh, there’s champagne!” Clarissa said, jumping up from the table. Margot watched her sister go, then pushed her chair back and followed. “The champagne glasses,” she said to excuse herself, but no one noticed. In the kitchen, Clarissa stood by the sink with her head bowed, one hand on the wire cage of a champagne cork, the other hand over her eyes. Margot stood next to her sister. She didn’t touch her, and she didn’t know what to say. Finally