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From legendary writer Edmund White, a bold and sweeping new novel that traces the extraordinary fates of twin sisters, one destined for Parisian nobility and the other for Catholic sainthood
Yvette and Yvonne Crawford are twin sisters, born on a humble patch of East Texas prairie but bound for far grander fates. Just as an untold fortune of oil lies beneath their daddy's land, both girls harbour their own secrets and dreams –ones that will carry them far from Texas and from each other. As the decades unfold, Yvonne will ascend the highest ranks of Parisian society as Yvette gives herself to a lifetime of worship and service in the streets of Jericó, Colombia. And yet, even as they remake themselves in their radically different lives, the twins find that the bonds of family and the past are unbreakable.
Spanning the 1950s to the recent past, Edmund White's marvellous novel serves up an immensely pleasurable epic of two Texas women as their lives traverse varied worlds: the swaggering opulence of the Dallas nouveau riche, the airless pretention of the Paris gratin and the strict piety of a Colombian convent.
Author: Edmund White
Paperback Published 29 September 2020 304 pages
Read and Recommended by Graeme:
"The new novel has a plot that is very reminiscent of Henry James’ A Portrait of a Lady - an American heiress travels to Europe and marries an aesthete with exquisite taste who is in dire need of her money. Except in White’s accomplished hands everything is much more heightened (the sex, the gossip, the wealth, the excess!) and much more entertaining! And we have not one but two oil money heiresses, twin sisters - Yvonne who conquers Parisienne society and Yvette, who embraces religious faith to endure and ultimately escape an abusive situation. White’s many gay male readers may be disappointed that there is little specific content for them in this novel (a couple of secondary gay male characters) yet they should be placated by such a witty and diverting romp through Parisienne high society. Yvonne ascends into the French aristocracy by marrying Baron Adhéaume de Courcy, only to see her wealth frittered away by him as he buys up Louis XV commodes and hosts a three million dollar party for the Shah of Iran ‘who looked absolutely bewildered, especially when the Mme de Montargis came in on a bejewelled elephant, which promptly defecated in the ballroom filled with spotlit orchid pyramids.” Yvonne’s children are her one solace, although Addy insisted their son be given the ‘extraordinary name’ of Foulques which was sometimes misheard as Fuck! The two children are also the weapon that Addy manipulates to prevent Yvonne from protecting her fortune and seeking a divorce. The novel focuses primarily on Yvonne who narrates the storyline. Yvette chimes in occasionally by letter, although it is she who provides one of the most startling and devastating scenes in the novel at an extended family reunion in Paris. Edmund White draws on his impressive intellect and erudition to deliver this nuanced exploration of the spirit and the flesh across the decades through these two superbly realised and captivating characters."
“The pagan and the saintly contend in this audacious new novel by Edmund White whose sympathy for his Texas-born characters radiates like a kind of blessing through their myriad adventures – sacred as well as secular, and always sensuously alive” – Joyce Carol Oates
“At once funny and moving, this is a ribald novel of the miraculous – a comic but searing exploration of sin and envy” – John Irving
“Like a waltz that goes out of control, this is a wild, dizzying, joyful romp. A Saint from Texas is a daring and exuberant novel in the spirit of Tristram Shandy, but it is also a brilliantly observed story about how we find ourselves by losing ourselves, about family bonds and how the harm done to us can warp us into something new. I loved it” – Ann Beattie