liars and saints

A Novel

Set in California, Liars and Saints follows the secret-keeping Catholic Santerre family from the Second World War to the millennium, as history challenges their certainties about the world and tragedy exposes their evasions and lies. 

Barnes & Noble
Books A Million


“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

“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

“Maile Meloy combines the meticulous realism of domestic fiction with the witchery of a natural-born storyteller.” 
— The New York Times Magazine

“Upends popular notions of American fiction... a spectacular first novel.” 
The New York Times Book Review

“[Meloy] may be the first great American realist of the 21st century.... The Santerres aren’t real but they feel like they are, and the reader will not soon forget them.” 
— The Boston Globe

“Breathtaking.... Leaves us with characters we’ll still feel we know thirty years from now, when we pull this book down off the shelf once more.” 
— Esquire

“To ignore a couple of time-honored writerly rules of thumb — write what you know; show don’t tell — takes nerve. To do so without showboating or proclaiming yourself a literary rebel takes self-possession. And to create vital, persuasive fiction while you’re at it takes something else — talent, obviously, and that rare quality readers long for and seldom find in an author: authority. Maile Meloy has it in spades. Somehow she pulls off what never quite seemed possible before: combining the meticulous realism of domestic fiction with the witchery of a natural-born storyteller.” 
— The New York Times Magazine 

“Every once in a while a book comes along that upends popular notions of American fiction. There is the literature of family dysfunction . . . There is regional literature . . . There is the social novel about current events . . . And there is the historical novel . . . Liars and Saints, Maile Meloy’s spectacular first novel, is at once all of these literatures and none of them. . . . Meloy accomplishes all of the above-all these literatures-not in some sprawling historical novel but in a breathtakingly spare 260 pages. She can telegraph years in a few sentences or lines of dialogue with aching specificity. . . . her novel explores religion and faith from nearly every possible angle, with an equal empathy for the faithful and doubting alike. In this sense, her book remains agnostic, but you can’t help hoping that if God does exist, he — or she — looks down on us all with Meloy’s generous gaze.” 
The New York Times Book Review

“[E]ach chapter of [Meloy’s] highly anticipated first novel, Liars and Saints, has the seductive aura of a finely crafted story. . . . Liars and Saints is a telescopic survey of five decades that is instructive and bittersweet and yet somehow never nostalgic. And Meloy’s Santerres may just be the most fascinating, engrossing American family since the Louds.” 
Los Angeles Times

“Bittersweet, wise, with a fantastic sense of character and history told in prose that exists entirely to serve her tale, her book is about the bad things good people can do, even when they are trying to do the right thing.” 
The San Francisco Chronicle

“[A]n appealing family romance . . . heartbreaking in its careful observations.” 
The Washington Post

“Meloy has written an exquisite novel about the power of secrets — and the redemption found in religion and love.” 

“[A] dazzling novel . . . Meloy, whose collection of short fiction, Half in Love, earned rave reviews last year, writes with wisdom and compassion . . . Meloy’s unerring mastery of narrative is remarkable. The disciplined economy and resonant clarity of her prose allow her to present a complex story in swift, lean chapters. The alternating points of view of eight main characters shine with authenticity and illuminate the moral complexities felt by each generation. The rich emotional chiaroscuro and fine psychological insight of this haunting novel mark Meloy as a writer of extraordinary talent.” 
Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“A multigenerational first novel told with remarkable compression and precision. . . . Prizewinning storywriter Meloy pushes every melodramatic hot button with disarming understatement.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“Meloy is an outstanding short story writer, as evident in her collection, Half in Love, and her signature clarity and concreteness also grace her first novel . . . As Meloy boldly dramatizes one family’s labyrinthine lies and maneuverings, acts of generosity and forbearance, folly and tragedy, she deftly probes the parameters of faith and love. . . . [Liars and Saints] calls to mind the work of Antonya Nelson and Andre Dubus.” 

“Meloy shows how skillful she is at hurtling the reader into an intriguing story line. . . . a compelling read.” 
Library Journal

“In this exquisitely rendered novel, Meloy brings her incisive intelligence to the page once again, reminding us that our actions and inactions, admissions and omissions, travel from one generation to the next, and that our past travels with us.” 
— Elizabeth Strout, author of Amy and Isabelle 

“Maile Meloy writes with startling clarity; not a word is wasted and yet her characters are developed with tremendous generosity. Liars and Saints covers decades and generations while still feeling wonderfully intimate. She’s a natural novelist, and this is an absorbing and memorable book.” 
— Aimee Bender, author of An Invisible Sign of My Own

“[Liars and Saints] combines a deliciously addictive family epic with a deliciously spare language.” 
The Vancouver Sun