Liars and Saints

Written by Maile Meloy
Review by Gerald T. Burke

The novel covers four generations of the Santerre family. Beginning at the close of World War II, the story continues up to the present. As the family swells, the intricacies of their emotional and psychological interdependence become complex. At the heart of the family’s relationships lurks a lie that, if exposed, could tear them apart. Near the end of the story, the elder Santerres visit Rome on a church-sponsored vacation, and tragedy strikes. This stunning twist of fate forces the entire family to face their selves and each other in a new way.

Maile Meloy’s first novel is a superb debut following her award-winning collection of short stories, Half in Love. Besides its intricate character development, the author’s taut prose manages to tell this multi-generational story in a mere 260 pages. In addition, the story presents the vivid social landscape of America that frames the lives of the Santerre family during a time of enormous change. This is as rich a novel as one can find about the complexity of an American family’s love and how that love binds them together.