Liar from Vermont
"The year Elizabeth II was crowned Queen of England and Edmund Hillary conquered Mount Everest, I first said I was from Vermont."
It's a lie, and Peggy knows it: she's the third daughter in a Midwestern academic family that summers in Vermont. But in Peggy's imagination, she lives on the hill farm across the way, with its rhythms of milking, haying, and working horses. Ten interlocking stories follow Peggy's quest for belonging — to a family, to a time, to a place — as she witnesses the irrevocable change in a Vermont whose mountains are becoming ski areas and whose farms are giving way to villages of second homes. A poignant portrait of a girl who sees the truth she embellishes all too clearly, and who learns that no amount of skill can make her stories of the people she loves turn out the way she wants.
Read the title story from the collection.
You can buy Liar From Vermont from Bartleby's Books, which is located just down the road from where Laura lives in the town where many of the stories are set. Bartleby's takes orders online. Liar is also available at your favorite local and online bookshops, as well as from Amazon.
Laura Stevenson’s Liar from Vermont is the elegantly written, ruthlessly honest, very funny, and astonishingly insightful story of a bright young girl’s coming of age during her summers in mid-twentieth century Vermont. It’s a story about family, friendship, class, and, most of all, love. I, for one, fell in love with Peggy Hamilton, the liar from Vermont, on the first page. Ms. Stevenson writes like an American Jane Austen, though her vision reminds me more of Hemingway’s and Edith Wharton’s. Liar from Vermont is a superb work of fiction.
-- Howard Frank Mosher, author of A Stranger in the Kingdom and Northern Borders
Laura Stevenson’s Liar From Vermont is a captivating novel for young people, and for all of us. Beautifully written and rich with humor, wisdom, and the often heart-piercing real experiences of growing up at any time and in any place, this is the (mostly!) truthful account of a young girl who lives partly in rural Vermont and partly in the urban academic circles frequented by her father, known here as The Great Man. The author tells a good story with unusual understanding and compassion, yet without a drop of sentimentality. I loved this book.
-- Reeve Lindbergh, author of Under A Wing and No More Words
Stevenson’s book is delicious—I found myself slowing down, trying to make it last. Yet although the collection of stories is beautiful, both in its descriptions of Vermont in the ‘50s and ‘60s and in its evocation of youth, its pages never sink into nostalgia. Peggy is a real, imperfect heroine, and through her eyes, I felt myself back in each stage of childhood with its mixture of the not-quite-as-expected and the unpredictable. And through the observant Peggy, who experiences Vermont as a summer visitor, we have snapshots of irrevocable change in a state often viewed from the outside as anachronistic and static. The stories skillfully weave through chapters of Peggy’s early life, presenting carefully distilled moments which can each be enjoyed independently, but when taken together reveal the arc of her development towards adulthood. It’s one of those books as perfectly balanced as a poem, where every phrase and detail count and where what is left unsaid stays with you as much as what is on the page.
-- Jenny Land, author of The Spare Room
Laura Stevenson paints for us the long farewell from childhood to adulthood, one bright and sometimes shocking brush stroke at a time. In LIAR FROM VERMONT, young Peggy Hamilton's journey echoes the one from graceful rural Vermont (full of horses for Peggy to ride) to overbearing ski-town development, and from family comfort to often-lonely independence. The vulnerability of fields and farms and fragile friendships shines in Peggy's self-aware narrative. Stevenson's heart-breaking stories of the 1950s to 1970s demonstrate what a treasure life can be. Even when it hurts. Thank you, oh thank you, for this brave and unforgettable portrait.
-- Beth Kanell, author of The Secret Room and Darkness Under the Water
"Liar from is a coming of age story, but it is so much more than that. It is social commentary, depicting the class differences of Vermont farmers and the summer people who delude themselves about their democratic inclusiveness. Itlooks at male and female gender roles and at what women were (and are?) supposed to do to meet those expectations. It examines family secrets and the dynamic of families who havelong conversations while saying nothing of what they feel. It is, as well, an ode to a time that is passing—or that has passed. Above all, it is a wonderful read—witty, insightful, beautifully written, and important."
(American Book Review, July/August 2015, Vol.36, number 3)
"[D]elicious—I found myself slowing down, trying to make it last. The collection of stories is beautiful, both in its descriptions of Vermont in the '50s and '60s, and in its evocation of youth, but its pages never sink into nostalgia.
"Peggy is a real, imperfect heroine, and through her eyes, I felt myself back in each stage of childhood with its mixture of the not-quite-expected and the unpredictable." (The Caledonian Record (PDF) (site))
"Writing From Life" Lecture Online
In the summer of 2015, Laura gave a talk on the art of turning fact into fiction at the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. You can view the presentation on YouTube, or read the lecture here.
Interview on VPR
Laura was interviewed in January 2016, on Vermont Public Radio during All Things Considered.
You can hear the interview by clicking here.