Book #91

The Liar by Stephen Fry

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.

Fry begins marvellously by introducing us to Adrian; a witty, know it all, too big for his boots public schoolboy who becomes involved in various amusing scenarios as we get to know him. He truly is a wonderful character and his antics show him to be incredibly charming, albeit completely nasty and self absorbed.

In terms of plot, I have no idea what Fry was attempting to do with this. He mixes Adrian’s school antics with some espionage and murder as though he were mixing oil and water. We flick backwards and forwards through time without warning, leaving us feeling jarred and utterly confused without merit.

Fry seems to be exploring truth here, with Adrian cast as a merciless and duplicitous liar. To improve others’ opinions of him, to remove himself from difficult situations, to ensure the light of blame is dimly shone on him and more brightly on others, his reasons varied. This worked well in creating humour and to allow us to understand Adrian as a person, however the only way I can begin to understand the ending of this novel is to assume it is, in fact, another lie. It was lunacy.

With some truly hilarious moments, and Adrian being a gem of a character, I did enjoy parts of this. Others were dull (such as the in depth discussion of a cricket match), and it could definitely benefit from a clearer plot route, perhaps simply Adrian’s escapades within and outwith his school would have been easier to swallow.