In Love with Ann Patchett

by Laura Findlay

Dear Zoo,

Most people have a favourite author. Someone like Nora Roberts who has written at least 200 novels (possible exaggeration). Not me. When people say ‘who is your favourite author?’ I don’t have a good answer. Roald Dahl – he’s like the Springsteen of writers? But no, no favourite author. That is mostly because I read not based on authors but based on books alone. And I generally don’t read genre fiction. So it is a rare occasion that I have read more than two books by the same author (Rainbow Rowell notwithstanding – she’s my homegirl).

But, Ann Patchett. Holy crap this woman can write a book.

I just finished reading The Patron Saint of Liars, her second novel and the third book of hers I’ve read. I haven’t read a ‘grown up’ book since I arrived on the Coast, just lots of great kids book. I really didn’t think I would break this spell until October. But as it always happens in the library, this book fell into my hands and I was possessed.

The Patron Saint of Liars is set in the South roughly around the sixties. It’s about a home for pregnant girls who have to, for one reason or another, give up their babies. Saint Elizabeth’s is where they come to wait out the pregnancy, hand over the child. Most of them.

I didn’t know much more than that going in so I won’t say much else. Only that it isn’t really about pregnant girls, just one in particular, and the people that are part of her life. And Saint Elizabeth’s, the old hotel itself.

Really, Patchett writes about relationships and she does a brilliant job of that. As was the case in State of Wonder.

In this book I loved the old hotel, the long, endless roads of the South. The southern heat dripped of the page and the cold, the snow made my bones ache. I loved Son, his bigness of spirit – what a phenomenal character. Patchett has a Catholic theme that runs through her books. I kind of like the element this adds to the story – mostly because I know nothing about Catholicism except that my Nan hated the nuns at her school.

OK. I’ll stop. Just do yourself a favour and read a Patchett book.