Liars

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Pub Date 22 Aug 2024 | Archive Date 22 Aug 2024

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Description

A searing novel about being a wife, a mother, and an artist, and how marriage makes liars of us all

'An unflinchingly true and honest depiction of a marriage turning from gold to dust — the resentments and disappointments that can rot the heart' – Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace

A white-hot dissection of the power imbalances in a marriage, and as gripping as you want fiction to be. Any spouse that has ever argued about money, time, work and childcare should read it' – Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity, Fever Pitch and About a Boy

A nuclear family can destroy a woman artist. I’d always known that. But I’d never suspected how easily I’d fall into one anyway.

When Jane, an aspiring writer, meets filmmaker John Bridges, they both want the same things: to be in love, to live a successful, creative life, and to be happy. When they marry, Jane believes she has found everything she was looking for, including—a few years later—all the attendant joys and labors of motherhood. But it’s not long until Jane finds herself subsumed by John’s ambitions, whims, and ego; in short, she becomes a wife.

As Jane’s career flourishes, their marriage starts to falter. Throughout the upheavals of family life, Jane tries to hold it all together. That is, until John leaves her.

Sarah Manguso's Liars is a tour de force of wit and rage, telling the blistering story of a marriage as it burns to the ground, and of a woman rising inexorably from its ashes.

'Painful and brilliant—I loved it' – Elif Batuman
, author of The Idiot and Either/Or

A searing novel about being a wife, a mother, and an artist, and how marriage makes liars of us all

'An unflinchingly true and honest depiction of a marriage turning from gold to dust — the...


Advance Praise

'An unflinchingly true and honest depiction of a marriage turning from gold to dust' Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace

'Painful and brilliant―I loved it' Elif Batuman, author of The Idiot and Either/Or

'A triumph and a revelation . . . the most honest marriage novel I have ever read. Sarah Manguso’s writing is furious, elegant, bitter, tender, frightening, and deeply funny. I loved this book' Claire Dederer, author of Monsters: A Fan's Dilemma

'I read Liars in one breathless, refuse-to-be-interrupted sitting. I was walloped on every page―by the painful familiarity of the story, by the all-at-onceness of the life described in these pages, by the brilliance of Manguso’s storytelling . . . I’m going to be returning to―and learning from―this book for years' Maggie Smith, New York Times bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful

'I was spellbound, entranced by Sarah Manguso’s deceptively simple but fathoms-deep storytelling. There’s an incredible force that underlies this work, propulsive and wild and a little bit scary' Emily Gould, author of Friendship and Perfect Tunes

'An exquisitely creepy book about one of our most horrifying institutions: marriage. I quickly devoured it and loved it' Myriam Gurba, author of Creep

'Intimate and fierce, Liars is a portrait of a marriage corroded by creative envy and a searing examination of the cost of literary ambition' Isabel Kaplan

'Liars is a crime novel. Except the crime is heterosexual marriage. It’s a whodunit and the villain is the patriarchy. . . . A brilliantly paced, gripping novel of love and betrayal' Lyz Lenz, author of This American Ex-Wife

'I couldn't put it down. An astounding feat. . . spanning a fourteen year marriage with concision and specificity. So many women will connect with this book. It sliced all the way through me' Rachel Yoder, author of Nightbitch

'An unflinchingly true and honest depiction of a marriage turning from gold to dust' Miranda Cowley Heller, author of The Paper Palace

'Painful and brilliant―I loved it' Elif Batuman, author of The...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781529062762
PRICE £16.99 (GBP)
PAGES 272

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Average rating from 16 members


Featured Reviews

Very Cold People was one of my books of 2022. Written in spare, crisp prose, it’s a bleak novella about an abusive childhood, extraordinarily powerful. Liars is the equally bleak story of a dysfunctional marriage told from the perspective of the wife.
Jane and John meet in their thirties, their relationship growing out of a powerful physical attraction. He suggests they both apply for a year’s residency in Athens but while she is awarded the prize for writing he fails to win the art prize, joining her after a few months, unable to contain his jealousy of her success, flirting outrageously and sulking, setting a pattern for their future together. Neither had planned to have children, but a few years into their marriage Jane becomes pregnant with their son. Her successful writing career stalls in the face of childcaring, homemaking and hauling John out of various scrapes, her financial dependence forcing her to trail after him as he moves from one job to another. After fourteen years of telling herself she should be grateful for her happy family, the financial security John has somehow delivered and the resurrection of her career, she’s faced with the truth of her marriage’s dysfunction.
Manguso unfolds her fragmented narrative in stark, striking prose. We have only one side of the story and there are occasional hints that John may not be the only liar, not least from the title, but Jane’s lies appear to be to herself, convincing herself that her marriage is all that it should be. A tale of bad behaviour, manipulation, and misery, there’s a feeling of autofiction about it, borne out by a little internet research, although to what extent isn’t clear.

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In Liars, Sarah Manguso deftly captures, in heartbreaking detail, the slow decay of a dying marriage. This novel makes for uncomfortable reading, but I mean that as a positive. I was deeply emotionally engaged with Liars, Jane and John's flawed relationship unlocking painful memories of my own failed relationships.

I found it an incredibly realistic portrayal of a woman so deep in her own lies that it's only near the end that she gains clarity and can see how her husband has also lied... not just to her, but to friends and family.

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LIARS is a searing portrait of a marriage, from beginning to disastrous end, told in vignettes and devastating sentences. I could not put this down!! This is in conversation with books like WE ARE TOO MANY and FATES AND FURIES, so if you loved those, don't miss LIARS. Manguso's writing is outstanding; I will be going back to read VERY COLD PEOPLE as soon as possible!

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This is the worst bookish cliché but I promise you that finishing Liars by Sarah Manguso felt like letting go of a breath I didn't realise that I was holding. This is a female rage, good for her, fast-paced literary read about a marriage on fire.

Liars is about Jane, an aspiring writer, who meets a filmmaker, John. He is very charming and she believes everything that she could want in a life partner. As they begin their relationship and we watch it blossom, we begin to pick up on some red flags that John is waving. As many people do, Jane finds a way to excuse this behaviour and moves on from it. They eventually get married and have a child and as their relationship goes through the years we see more and more how John & their marriage strips Jane of her identity as an artist, who happens to also be a wife and mother, and reduces her down to only being a wife and mother.

This isn't a thriller book but it's absolutely paced like one. Not only is it an extremely tightly wound and claustrophobic feeling story that had me breathlessly turning the pages but also Manguso formats her work in vignettes which I find keeps the pacing quick. If you have a day with nothing to do where you can commit yourself to read all day, this is a book that you could read in one sitting.

There is so much bitterness in these pages, it's the kind of book that makes you frustrated and angry as you read it. It’s a book about reducing a woman to her most basic stereotypes, it's about all the invisible work that a lot wives and mothers do, and it also felt like a good reminder to not accept mediocrity in our relationships and to pay attention to red flags. Reading this really made me so thankful to have a partner who is helpful and supportive in all of the things that I do.

Liars is a brutally honest representation of how marriages can end up. I'm not somebody who is often drawn to books that explore romantic relationships like this but I genuinely couldn't look away from this book. I think Sarah Manguso has such a knack for writing about the motions of life and without a doubt I will continue to pick up anything else that she releases.

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I am completely in love with this book! A rallying cry to all women who feel that they have put their entire lives on hold to support their husbands and families only to be dumped on from a great height!

This book made me feel so many things, from anger, frustration, relief and joy. I felt so much for Jane and was rooting for her so much.

Answering important questions like who is responsible for the breakdown of a relationship? Who are the liars and what lies do they tell? Whether to themselves or others.

I could not put this book down and highly recommend it.

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