I can’t imagine the person who has met Patry Francis and did not immediately fall a little bit in love with her. Patry is just one of those people who seems to emit a calm, but energizing force. I expect that her aura must be gold. Her smile is instantaneous and contagious. I’ve never shaken her hand because when we finally met in person, she immediately enveloped me in a delicious hug. She has four children, a husband of twenty-something years, and, now, a grandchild. Driven to write since she was a mere girl, Patry put off her writing career and worked as a waitress to raise her children and put her husband through seminary. She is, in New Age-ish parlance (see “aura” above), an Earth Mother Goddess.
I was afraid to read her novel, The Liar’s Diary.
I first got to know Patry on myspace, and I liked her so much that I wanted to like her book as well. If there was ever a cover designed to seduce a reader, it’s The Liar’s Diary’s original cover. (The new cover, the red one, is seductive, too!) It exudes mystery with a hint of sexual intrigue. It whispers, “I’m gorgeous. Don’t you want to touch me? To pick me up and hold me in your own two hands?” Plus, it had great blurbs: Jacqueline Mitchard, Tess Gerritsen, and lots of love from Kirkus and PW. And at the heart of it all, an intriguing story with delightfully unreliable narrator. In brief: When Jeanne Cross, a reserved high school secretary is befriended by Ali Mather, the stunning, talented and sexy new music teacher, she slowly begins to recognize the hidden fractures in her own carefully constructed life. But when a murderer strikes, and Jeanne’s son is accused of the crime, that life is completely, and perhaps irreparably, shattered. All compelling reasons to open that book, but, still, I fretted.
The Liar’s Diary sat on my bedside table for a good six weeks last spring before I could bear to open it. (This happens all the time with the books my friends write.) It tormented me. I was to meet Patry in July at Thrillerfest. And, believe me, there is nothing more strained or darkly comical than that moment when two writers meet and one, or both of them, has written a book that the other hasn’t yet read. Some writers lie about what they’ve read. In writers’ circles it’s considered a little white lie, comparable to telling your grandmother that you absolutely adore that birthday gift she sent you: the crocheted toilet paper holder that’s disguised as an imitation Barbie doll wearing a hoop skirt. But I’m just no good at lying. Ask anyone who knows me. (Then there’s that whole Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness thing.) So I save my lies for fiction. And I am very apologetic if I haven’t had time to read someone’s book.
Of course, gentle reader, I was totally blown away by The Liar’s Diary. I read it in a matter of hours. I cast the film in my head: Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman. I said, “No way!” when the mystery was revealed, because I hadn’t guessed. **sigh** It was a very satisfying read. When I finally met Patry, my praise was unreserved and I was thrilled to hug her right back!
A little history about The Liar’s Diary Blog Day:
When I heard that Patry had announced on her wonderful blog, Simply Wait, that she was being treated for cancer, my heart broke for her. Pinckney is a cancer survivor and the woman who held my hand while I delivered my son died after a brutal two-year battle with leukemia. Cancer shouldn’t happen to anyone. It’s an equal opportunity disease that happens to unpleasant people and lovely people alike. Patry lives far away from me, so there was no question of my fixing hearty comfort meals for her family to help her through her treatment. I thought that the least I could do for Patry was to contact a few fellow bloggers and see if we couldn’t give her a little morale boost by touting today’s paperback release of The Liar’s Diary, since she cannot tour for it. It was just a hopeful thought whispered to me by the still, small voice that I never spend enough time listening to. But within hours of my wistful email to the amazing and energetic Susan Henderson of LitPark, Karen Dionne of Backspace and writer Jessica Keener (goddesses in their own right!) were also on board and pouring their hearts into the project. I hope you’ll go by LitPark today and click around the list of the hundreds of generous folks who are blogging for Patry. There are reviews and contests, interviews, and more tales of Patry. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU if you are one of the bloggers participating! Your support for Patry has been a powerful demonstration of the mysteries of kindness and compassion.
I hope you’ll take a look at THE LIAR’S DIARY. The nice folks at Penguin, Patry’s publisher, are offering a 15% discount on their website through February 15th. (On the shopping cart page, be sure to enter PATRY in the ‘coupon code’ field and click ‘update cart’ to activate it.) Or, you can buy it here or here. Perhaps pick one up for a friend, as well. (What’s better than a best friend story for your best friend?!) Tell friends, tell family, tell everyone!
I thought I might do a contest and give away a couple of copies of THE LIAR’S DIARY, but so many other folks are doing cool contests, I think I’ll just give a couple copies away. If you comment here, I’ll let our boy Bengal choose who gets them. You never know what will catch the imagination of an eight year-old!
While you’re pondering, do take a look at the book trailer (below) that COS Productions produced as a gift to Patry (Thank you Sheila Clover English!), and give a listen to an excerpt from the Brilliance Audio version (Thank you Eileen Hutton at Brilliance!).