The Twyborn Affair

The Twyborn Affair

3.91 (309 ratings by Goodreads)
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Eddie Twyborn is bisexual and beautiful, the son of a Judge and a drunken mother. With his androgynous hero - Eudoxia/Eddie/Eadith Twyborn - and through his search for identity, for self-affirmation and love in its many forms, Patrick White takes us into the ambiguous landscapes, sexual, psychological and spiritual, of the human more

Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 129.54 x 193.04 x 30.48mm | 340.19g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0099458217
  • 9780099458210
  • 231,018

Review quote

"[An] exploration of an extremely slippery characterological realm offers many substantial pleasures" -- Benjamin DeMott New York Times "It challenges comparison with some of the world's most bizarre masterpieces" Financial Times "Patrick White is, in the finest sense, a world novelist. His themes are catholic and complex and he persues them with a single-minded energy and vision" -- Robert Nye Guardianshow more

Review Text

Transvestism, hermaphroditism, reincarnation, or just plain literary whimsy? You won't know which of these is the key to White's wide-rangingly playful, sometimes deeply beautiful (and sometimes airy-fairy) novel until the last few pages, when it's a little more than half-revealed. We begin in 1914, on the Riviera, where Eudoxia, an Australian "woman," is the mistress of a wealthy, aged Greek; she's plagued this one summer, though, by the presence of one Joan Golson, a Sydney matron on holiday who was a long-time lover of Eudoxia's mother, Eadie Twyborn. Then. . . skip ahead a few years: it's after the war, and now, Orlando-style, Eudoxia is named Eddie - yes, a male. After seeing combat in France, Eddie returns Down Under and gets a job, through a friend of the family, working as a "jackeroo" - a ranchhand - on a large sheep ranch in the outback. There, it's up for grabs whom he more lusts after: the virile foreman Don Prowse or the ranch-owner's wife, Marcia Lushington. (No light touches these names.) In fact, he has them both, which cancels them out equally - and then he's off. So much for Eddie. The curtain reopens years later on Eadith Trist, "the bawd of Beckwith Street," owner of an exclusive London bordello but chaste as a nun herself (by now the reader can well suspect why). And when, just as London begins to be German-bombed, Eadith encounters her mother Eadie, and readies herself to be revealed, she's killed in the street by a falling building. Silly? Yes. But out of this baroque, shadowed, I-don't-give-a-damn invention, White draws some astonishingly lovely tones; the novella-like structure and the things-are-not-what-they-seem lightness allow him to linger on his style, which often responds marvelously. Stare at it too hard and this fabrication will collapse into a pile of sequins. But if you accept the terms of the waltz with Eudoxia/Eddie/Eadith, it's fun and - for White's shining prose - sometimes even more than that. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

309 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 34% (104)
4 36% (111)
3 21% (64)
2 8% (24)
1 2% (6)
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