I'm No Saint
A Nasty little memoir of love and leaving
Oct. 3, 2005
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"…desire for adventure, sexual fulfillment and economic independence versus our maternal instincts…"
"…she delivers a message contemporary women may find worth contemplating …"
When I was a thirty year old wife and mother without a career, I was delighted with Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, which illuminated sex and unfulfilled marriages. I built my promiscuous fantasies around Anais Nin’s erotic tales in Little Birds and I accepted the security marriage offered after reading Looking for Mr. Goodbar.
A generation later, Elizabeth Hayt’s memoir, I’m No Saint: A Nasty Little Memoir of Love and Leaving speaks to 21st Century women on the same subject—our desire for adventure, sexual fulfillment and economic independence versus our maternal instincts. Based on the popularity of Sex in the City and Desperate Housewives, this book definitely has a market. It speaks to women who have subordinated their ambitions and live frustrated lives as wives and mothers.
Hayt tells of her journey into economic independence. Hayt, the daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, grows up on Great Neck, Long Island. Her parents select colleges where she is groomed as a suitable wife. In her twenties, while a student at Barnard, she meets a law student from Columbia. They marry and have a child and, after ten years, separate.
Hayt is painfully honest about her sexual exploits before, during and after her break-up with her husband. She tells of her struggles with alcohol and cocaine addiction as well as depression. A turning point in Hayt’s life comes in her late thirties when her lover tells her she is a “nobody”, although by this time she is an accomplished art critic and devoted mother.
“I’m saying become someone,” her lover challenges her. “Then you’ll know what you want.” She meets his challenge by selling her freelance stories on art and fashion to the New York Times, Vogue, and Elle.
Hayt displays a smooth, journalistic writing style. She is blunt. However, I question her desire to provide excruciating details about her brutal and “unsatisfying, bleary sexual encounters” that border between pornography and eroticism. But she delivers a message that contemporary women may find worth contemplating – how “gluttonous, unblushing, and transcendent sex” doesn’t necessarily translate into true love.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla