SAINT by Christine Bell

SAINT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

While Rubia is selling her bras and girdles, husband Federico is seducing her salesclerk to the tune of ""To Love Somebody""; and Rosa, wife of a flamenco dancer, is being religious and not missing church, sponsored bingo. Saint, Bell's first novel, is a gem of satire and wit, debauchery and poignancy mixed in the eccentric comings and goings of three generations ensconced in a hacienda in Santa del Rio. La Senora (mother of Federico) is dying of cancer. Her husband limps from an old war wound--or more likely from the retribution of his jealous wife for his unfaithfulness. Rubia (the blonde and only Yanqui of the family) wishes to give the same ailment to her shameless husband. One of Rubia's young daughters wishes she were a nun and sees visions--while the other daughter vomits in the back of churches. And Rubia's store in town employs only women with the name of Maria, while costumed female Spanish dancers ""manage a look of professional pain"" even without a thorny rose clamped between their teeth. This is a rollicking farce. At rare instances the explicit portrayal of sex acts are unworthy of the author's considerable and deft descriptive talents, and change of tense in a first person novel is always sticky and difficult--this being no exception--but the overall effect is one of insight, humor, and originality. Halting and obtuse at the beginning, Bell's narrative eventually ensnares us into the oddities of this unique assemblage of oddballs.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Pineapple Press