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The Liar's Diary

1 rating: 2.0
A book by Patry Francis

A case study in the explosive effects of extreme denial, Francis's debut relies completely on its very unreliable narrator, with mixed results. When local violinist and composer Ali Mather, a very sexy 46, comes to teach music at the Bridgeway high school … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Patry Francis
Publisher: Plume
1 review about The Liar's Diary

lies and secrets

  • Mar 21, 2009
I was wandering round Target, waiting for the pharmacy to fill my prescription, and had just reached the books' section when I found it - bottom shelf, red and cream cover with an image of a woman in lacy apparel. I'd looked at several paperbacks already, and it wasn't the picture that enticed me. But the blurb on the back was intriguing. Suburban life falling apart, mutual vulnerabilities, long-held secrets, something darker... those are things I might expect to enjoy. Stunning, magnetic personalities less so, but I decided to buy it anyway.

The book began gently, with a character I quickly related to - married, insecure, low self-esteem, struggling with the conflicting responsibilities of wife and mother. Her son has problems of his own, and she tries to help and support, never sure where the line between enabling and ennobling lies.

The husband; is he as bad as the narrator paints, or are we seeing only through her eyes? The friend; is she really out of control or controlling; maybe just another flawed personality with hidden depths? The colleagues... the school... Patry paints relationships and gossip with a clear steady hand. I could hear the conversations and picture the scenes; felt I'd been there; felt like I knew exactly where she'd placed me.

By the time I reached the top of the roller coaster ride, midway through the book, I realized I'd spent all my time listening to a conversation without noticing it was too late to get away. Actually, I might have put the book down then. I'd reached that point where I need to trust the writer; an advantage established writers have over newcomers, I suppose. I could see the written world falling apart ahead of me, and knew I didn't want to watch dismay devolve into unmitigated disaster. Luckily I'd seen Patry's writing elsewhere, so I did trust her. In the darkest of places, she creates amazingly uplifting articles. So I knew her book wouldn't leave me without hope, and it didn't.

The reader begins to guess at secrets as the story speeds up. I found myself hooked, unable to stop reading, and wishing I could protect the character from making those so natural mistakes. I thought I knew exactly where I was going till the sudden shock that I didn't guess, and the puzzle I hadn't even realized would need to be solved.

The characters all stayed true to themselves, true to how I'd come to know them through reading. The dilemmas were resolved; sadness and pain leaving a path open to hope. And the clues all made sense. By the end I knew I'd read a really good book, one which I'd recommend to anyone interested in well-developed suburban characters with dark secrets waiting to derail them.

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