STARRED REVIEW
August 2020

A Saint from Texas

By Edmund White
Review by
From the social milieu of Paris to the sanctity of a Colombian convent, A Saint From Texas is alive with desire and rich with history, and Edmund White’s love for his characters is infectious.
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Exploring the complexities of sin, passion and love—both human and divine—Edmund White spins a tale of two Texas sisters whose destinies could not be more dissimilar. From the social milieu of Paris to the sanctity of a Colombian convent, A Saint From Texas is alive with desire and rich with history, and White’s love for his characters is infectious.

Yvonne and Yvette (pronounced “Why-vonne” and “Why-vette,” y’all) are identical twins from a wealthy family. After their mother dies and their stepmother uproots the family to Dallas, the twins begin to grow into entirely different women. Whereas Yvonne becomes a proper Dallas socialite, with long blond hair and a glamorous debut, Yvette turns to books and religion, tutoring immigrant children and encouraging workers to unionize. The girls are bonded by their disdain for their stepmother and the suffering they experience at their father’s hand, and eventually they escape to the University of Texas at Austin together. Yvonne ascends the social ladder, and Yvette steeps herself in religion and intellect. By their junior year, both girls leave the school, Yvonne to Paris and Yvette to Colombia.

Here the novel begins to turn in on itself, as we follow Yvonne’s social climb and eventual marriage, with brief yet powerful epistolary transmissions from Yvette. Both sides of the story are moving, emotionally tortuous and prurient, highlighted by White’s subtle and tender prose.

White’s nearly 50-year career has inspired the minds and lifted the hearts of many, and the 80-year-old author’s storytelling power only continues to rise. A Saint From Texas explores the deep trenches of each woman’s struggle, and we are forced to consider the differences between worldly and heavenly desire, though one may realize that perhaps there aren’t that many. In this book, love is shapeless and nameless, though its effects can be staggering.

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A Saint From Texas

A Saint From Texas

By Edmund White
Bloomsbury
ISBN 9781635572551

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