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The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
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The Price of Salt (1952)

by Patricia Highsmith

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,071755,305 (3.82)1 / 121
A chance encounter between two lonely women leads to a passionate romance in this lesbian cult classic. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover. Author Patricia Highsmith is best known for her psychological thrillers Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, The Price of Salt was heralded as "the novel of a love society forbids." Highsmith's sensitive treatment of fully realized characters who defy stereotypes about homosexuality marks a departure from previous lesbian pulp fiction. Erotic, eloquent, and suspenseful, this story offers an honest look at the necessity of being true to one's nature. The book is also the basis of the acclaimed 2015 film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.… (more)
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English (71)  Dutch (2)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
Touching. Dreamlike. I loved a lot about this, especially the atmosphere and dialogue. She so beautifully evokes certain feelings of being in love. I assume, but wouldn't know, that her descriptions of the fear in closeted relationships are also accurate, given that she knew that fear so well.

I actually saw the film before reading the book, and it didn't grab me. I feel like it makes a lot more sense after reading the book, as I understand Therese better and the cryptic facial expressions Mara used.

This was great, and I'd recommend it and the film (though book first). ( )
  RFellows | Apr 29, 2020 |
An outstanding book because of its honest and unabashed acceptance of a lesbian relationship, something quite remarkable for 1952, but also because of the lovely little touches in Patricia Highsmith’s writing. Her story includes elements of emotional tension, grace, and passion that are true to all sorts of romantic relationships, and there is a universality to it. At the same time, in showing how these two women are treated, thought of as deviants and harassed across the country by a private investigator, it represents a huge step forward for the LGB community by simply showing them as two people in love. I love how they are not romanticized though, and they are complete characters. Bravo to Highsmith for standing up to her publishers and simply writing a great story with honesty, rather than trying to capitalize on her success from ‘Strangers on a Train.’

Quotes:
On January:
“It was all things. And it was one thing, like a solid door. Its cold sealed the city in a grey capsule. January was moments, and January was a year. January rained the moments down, and froze them in her memory: the woman she saw peering anxiously by the light of a match at the names in a dark doorway, the man who scribbled a message and handed it to his friend before they parted on the sidewalk, the man who ran a block for a bus and caught it. Every human action seemed to yield a magic. January was a two-faced month, jangling like jester’s bells, crackling like snow crust, pure as any beginning, grim as an old man, mysteriously familiar yet unknown, like a word one can almost but not quite define.”

On love:
“I feel I am in love with you … and it should be spring. I want the sun throbbing on my head like chords of music. I think of a sun like Beethoven, a wind like Debussy, and birdcalls like Stravinsky. But the tempo is all mine.”

On (happy) memories:
“But there were other days when they drove out into the mountains alone, taking any road they saw. Once they came upon a little town they liked and spent the night there, without pajamas or toothbrushes, without past or future, and the night became another of those islands in time, suspended somewhere in the heart or in the memory, intact and absolute. Or perhaps it was nothing but happiness, Therese thought, a complete happiness that must be rare enough, so rare that very few people ever knew it.”

On pleasure:
“Then Carol slipped her arm under her neck, and all the length of their bodies touched, fitting as if something had prearranged it. Happiness was like a green vine spreading through her, stretching fine tendrils, bearing flowers through her flesh. She had a vision of a pale white flower, shimmering as if seen in darkness, or through water. Why did people talk of heaven, she wondered.” ( )
3 vote gbill | Apr 6, 2020 |
Seconda lettura a distanza di anni, e dopo aver visto il film. Ne scriverò in maniera approfondita più in là, su uno di miei blog (metterò qui il link quando sarà).
Confermo le 5 stelle. ( )
  Patfumetto | Mar 19, 2020 |
Characters in this novel felt to me as if they were moving and speaking to one another while in a constant stupor. They enjoyed staring at things that didn't seem very interesting to me, perhaps as a way for the author to show them preoccupied, sad, or nervous. God knows. As in: "For a moment she stared at the eyebrow tweezers that lay on the little shelf fixed to the inside of the closet door."

As I read I kept being distracted by questions, as in: "did people really talk all the time about nothing in the fifties?" and "was a dictaphone really the private-detective's secret recording device in the fifties?" and "did department stories really used to have departments devoted entirely to dolls?" and "Hmm, is this road trip just a lame plot excuse for these women to have time together away from their men, rather than an organic part of the story?" and most of all: "why do the other people in Carol's family have such weird names?"

But, good anyway. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
TBA. ( )
  autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 71 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Patricia Highsmithprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lefkow, LaurelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
To Edna, Jordy and Jeff
First words
The lunch hour in the co-workers' cafeteria at Frankenberg's had reached its peak.
Quotations
Happiness was like a green vine spreading through her, stretching fine tendrils, bearing flowers through her flesh.
She had seen just now what she had only sensed before, that the whole world was ready to be their enemy, and suddenly what she and Carol had together seemed no longer love or anything happy but a monster between them, with each of them caught in a fist.
I don't mean people like that. I mean two people who fall in love suddenly with each other, out of the blue. Say two men or two girls ... I suppose it could happen, though, to almost anyone, couldn't it?
They're not horrid. One's just supposed to conform. I know what they'd like, they'd like a blank they could fill in. A person already filled in disturbs them terribly.
Remember what you said about physics not applying to people? ... Well, I’m not sure you’re
right ... Take friendships, for instance. I can think of a lot of cases where the two people have nothing in common. I think there’s a definite reason for every friendship just as there’s a reason why certain atoms unite and others don’t—certain missing factors in one, or certain present factors in the other—what do you think? I think friendships are the result of certain needs that can be completely hidden from both people, sometimes hidden forever.
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Disambiguation notice
Carol was first published in the USA under the title The Price of Salt, 1952, and the author's pseudonym of Claire Morgan.
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W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

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