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February 13, 2018


Art Taylor

Fascinating comments on lying here--provocative and, yeah, uncomfortable (and I agree with your questions for the author there about those technicalities too). As for unreliable narrators, I'm generally fascinated by them. I know there have been too many of them lately (a trend that may have become almost-predictable), and when they don't rise above the level of the gimmick... well, you're in trouble. But when handled well and thoughtfully, crafted where the reader can ultimately see several levels of what's going on with the narration--and who's fooling who--it can be masterful and such great fun.

Karen in Ohio

I'd have to deflect: Does this dress flatter me? How do YOU feel about it?

I raised three daughters, and had to be extremely sensitive to potentially hurt feelings.

Your mileage may vary.

Question: Is it a spoiler to say that such-and-such book has an unreliable narrator?

Cynthia Kuhn

Love this post, Catriona! Such an interesting topic. I find unreliable narrators intriguing. Margaret Atwood does them especially beautifully--the more her characters say things like "I may be remembering this wrong" or "I left something out" or even "I lied," the more human and (ironically) believable they seem to be. :)


Yes, Karen - the spoilerosity troubled me too, a bit. I think it's coming off the jacket. But it's interesting to hear that you , Cynthia and Art all think they're okay. (All these years after Dame Agatha did it best and first in XXXXXXXXXXXXXX - redacted.)

Ann Mason.

I rely on your narrators to be reliably unreliable. Or not. If I always had to have my way, I’d have to write my own bewks. And we know that’s not happening. Ever. Congrats on the newest offering and a Penny blurb. Great cover , draws my eye, but then I’d buy it if it looked like a dog’s dinner. Love, your favorite stalker

Hank Phillippi Ryan

I agree, Karen, it is a spoiler to say someone is an unreliable and narrator. But then… Thinking about this… Aren’t we all unreliable?Because what does reliable even mean? It all comes from our own perspective.

Catriona, this is so thought-provoking. It would be so free just to say “ just my opinion, of course, but that look does not appeal to me. “. And one’s parents off until the truth, don’t they? My stepfather used to look at my Age-16 outfits, and say “what do you represent? “

And another question: wouldn’t you rather have someone tell you the truth? I think I would!


HAhahahaha, Hank. I just heard Karen from Will and Grace looking at an outfit and saying "Oh honey, what's this? What's going on here?"

Kathy Reel

I've grown fond of unreliable narrators with a twist of revelation. I look at it as misdirection, not lying, and done fairly (I know, whatever that means), it can be a delightful format.

I like what Hank says, that we're all unreliable due to perspective. And, I can't wait for this new book, Catriona!


I love myself some unreliable narrators, mostly because I think in many ways, everyone is unreliable.

Now, before you start thinking, "wow, that Kris, he sure has a dark view of the world," I should say that I don't think most people intend to be unreliable, but in fact, it's just human nature to attempt to put yourself at the center of any story and this leads to those unintentional "lies."

I like an unreliable narrator who doesn't even *know* they are unreliable.

Looking forward to the new book - with or without the Louise Penny blurb. ;)

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