How I do love my dear Ann Patchett. I recently finished reading her first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which LL says is her fave among Ann Patchett's. My favorite remains Bel Canto (I love its elegance), but Patron Saint is very good -- certainly as good as Run, though the two are quite different. Bel Canto is even more different.
That Ann Patchett. She simply refuses to be pigeonholed.
In The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett uses images and symbols associated with Catholicism to develop the theme that God provides a family for us in our times of greatest need.
Rose is a young married woman who discovers she is pregnant. Rather than tell her husband, she drives away to St. Elizabeth's, now a home for pregnant girls but once a beautiful hotel where people stayed to enjoy the healing waters. Girls at St. Elizabeth's have their babies and give them up for adoption. The girls and the babies are never seen again.
But Rose changes her mind. She gradually takes over much of the kitchen work from the elderly Sister Evangeline -- who becomes her dear friend -- and then she and Son, longtime handyman at St. Elizabeth's, make a momentous decision when Rose tells Son she no longer wants to give up her baby and she does not want to move on.
"Stay here," he said. "Marry me and they'll let you stay."
I turned around and looked at him. He looked at the fire for a minute and then turned to me. "Marry me, Rose," he said. "I'm not going to try and talk you into something you don't want to do, but it makes good sense. We'll stay here. We'll bring the baby up together."
And so Rose marries Son of God, stays at St. Elizabeth's after she gives birth to their daughter, and Son is a good father, while Rose is a somewhat distant mother who sees girls arrive and give up their babies and leave, and she takes care of Sister Evangeline, who knows the future, and finally, develops stigmata.
Patron Saint seems a quiet, unassuming novel, but Patchett can really pack a punch when she feels like it.
I'm afraid I can't tell you more than that without spoiling the novel. You'll simply have to read it for yourself, and I most certainly do recommend reading The Patron Saint of Liars, which was made into a TV movie. I have never seen it, but after I finished the book, God and U-verse provided me with the movie and it awaits me on my close, personal friend, DVR.
Infinities of love,