The Liar

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I'd never read any Stephen Fry before & knew nothing about him as an author, so had very little idea what to expect from this 367 page novel from 1991. If you had to guess you'd probably go for “funny & clever”? Well, you wouldn't be to far off the mark with that, but it still wasn't quite what the book I had envisioned.

This is the story of Adrian Healey. An overly clever young man, with a chronic tendency to lie & exaggerate in virtually every situation he finds himself in. This often causes him quite a bit of trouble, but it's this very trouble he seem desperate to covet by stirring thing up.

It's really a book of two halves. The first part tells of Adrian's educational upbringing, from Private school to Cambridge University. The second part is more of a spy espionage plot. Although the spy part has an amusing twist in it, it's really the first section that worked better for me & I wonder if maybe the two ideas might have been better off in two separate novels.

The use of language throughout is, as you might expect: clever, witty, amusing & vulgar. There is a fair amount of swearing & a whole lot of pretty graphic (mainly) homosexual content sprinkled liberally throughout. I wonder how much of it all comes from Fry's personal experiences.

The chapter structure is varied with some longer chapters split into shorter sections (usually in the first half of the novel) & some shorter chapters at the secondary plot gets going. There are also some (initially at least) mysterious pieces inserted between the earlier chapters. One thing I found slightly disconcerting though was; when within a chapter a scene changed location or time frame, with no paragraph brake line, still maybe that's just me.

Over all, if you reasonably open-minded & fancy a clever, but ultimately light-hearted read then give “The Liar” a try, you could do a lot worse. I'll certainly be reading some more Stephen Fry. Maybe I'll got for “Making History” next.


Re: The Liar

I enjoyed this book - the storyline is clever and keeps you guessing all the way through. I do think "Making History" is Fry's best book though, but this would probably be a close second for me.