Meloy Messes With Our Heads

In a very cool way. Mayle Meloy’s new novel, A Family Daughter, outs one of her characters as the “real” author of Meloy’s previous novel, Liars and Saints. (Are you following?)

“Liars and Saints” began during World War II with the wedding of Teddy Santerre to a French-Canadian woman, Yvette Grenier. These two, after an extramarital incident that planted the chronicle’s first guilty secret, became the parents and then grandparents of a sizable, restless brood. And they also became — great-grandparents? Great-aunt and great-uncle? It’s hard to say. The pivotal character in both books is their granddaughter Abby, the budding novelist. And in both books Abby has an affair with Jamie, her feckless, irresistible young uncle.

The hall-of-mirrors aspect of these relationships is dizzying. In “Liars and Saints,” Abby and Jamie produced a son named T. J., and then Abby died. In “A Family Daughter,” the putative real-life version, there is also a boy named T. J., but he is a European-born child adopted by Jamie. Abby is not his mother, and Abby does not perish. She writes a novel that earns her both literary distinction and unwelcome curiosity about her family’s real story.

Intrigued yet?