This review was written 26/3/09
Synopsis (from Amazon)
Stephen Fry’s breathtakingly outrageous debut novel, by turns eccentric, shocking, brilliantly comic and achingly romantic. Adrian Healey is magnificently unprepared for the long littleness of life; unprepared too for the afternoon in Salzburg when he will witness the savage murder of a Hungarian violinist; unprepared to learn about the Mendax device; unprepared for more murders and wholly unprepared for the truth.
Firstly I’ll say The Liar was not really what I expected. The way it was written was really the only thing I had expected, it was the tone you recognise from Fry, and very cleverly written. I put the book on my list based on the synopsis on Amazon, which, while not untrue doesn’t really tell you what most of the book is about. Most of the book is about Adrian’s story of his life. From an all boy’s boarding school to an undergraduate at Cambridge. It’s interesting to read about these places and Fry writes with humour, I actually laughed out loud a few times. (highlight to view spoiler) Ultimately though it is a story about lies. About the lies Adrian tells about his life, about the whole situation he gets into being a lie, and the lies he tells along the way. How much is true, none of it? You find out towards the end that some bits have been a lie, but is that itself a lie? Something has to be a lie for something else to be true surely? Or maybe it is all a lie.
It was a great book and it still has me thinking (I think I have said before that that is a good sign). Just a quick warning that there are ome sex scences and mentions of sexual activity (both gay and straight) which I think may put some people off, although the descriptions aren’t graphic they do discuss a…seedier side of sex.
Added note (added 2/11/10): There is a lot of similarity between this book and Stephen Fry’s autobiography- Moab is my Washpot. Moab is my waspot is probably a bit of an easier read but The Liar is more exciting. If you’re after an introduction to Stephen Fry’s writing I’d probably go for Moab is my Washpot over The Liar but it’s still well worth reading both.