An unusual novel from the author, Edmund White. Full of wit, tenderness and observation, hallmarks of his best writing, but about two women, Yvonne and Yvette (names the mother liked but had never heard spoken; so, until they were better informed, they were pronounced Why-vonne and Why-vette).
Twins, born into near poverty, they get lucky when the small holding is found to be over an oil field, so for many years there was the opposite, very comfortable wealth. Yvette is the quiet spiritual one and Yvonne, the firecracker.
In adulthood, they diverge completely. Yvonne goes to Europe and marries into the impoverished French aristocracy, finds herself a baronesse with a flat in the Avenue Foch, the widest and grandest of the Baron Haussmann boulevards and a dilapidated chateau in Var, her husband Adhéaume, Baron de Courcy, spends her money freely, grabs his conjugal rights which result in twins, a boy and a girl and is then unfaithful, possibly serially.
Yvette takes the opposite course and goes to Columbia to work with the indigenous people, and her saintly nature fulfils her, she is not without feelings for her Bishop and for a fellow nun, but this leads to unforeseen consequences, and much unhappiness.
The characters are vividly brought to life on the page, and Yvonne makes a delightful, if unreliable, narrator and letter-writer. Her passion, first for her husband, and later on for others is nuanced and lightly brushed in, her love for her sister, so different but so much a part of her character is apparent throughout.
One feels a part of the swirl and gaiety, yet thankful not to be immediately involved. Tonally the scenes in Paris are very much along the lines of a flaneur, the walks, restaurants and shops are wandered through and past. It is an interesting and delightful stroll.
Parental relationships are less delightful, and painted with a studied awareness. A delicacy of touch with covers both her own parents, father and step-mother and her in-laws who perch disapprovingly in the chateau upon which their son has spend an egregious amount of Texan oil money.
A Saint in Texas has a clever and dramatic twist. I loved reading this novel.