The Price of Salt

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Price of Salt
Patricia Highsmith (released under the name Claire Morgan), 1952 (e-version 2011)

Premise: Therese is unsatisfied with her life, her retail job, her boyfriend. One day, she meets a beautiful stranger, and her life is changed.

I watched and enjoyed Carol for Mainlining Christmas, but I was curious about the source material. When I had an opportunity to pick it up cheap on Kindle, I took it.

I think from the descriptions, I was expecting something that felt more dated, or that had more of the conventions of pulp. I found nothing of the sort.

This book could have been written yesterday. At least in style, it could have.

Of course, today it's harder to imagine a person like Therese would get to be nineteen with so little interest in sex or men and not really consider an attraction to women as a possible alternative. But that would have been the reality for many women of the time.

This book is a romance with thriller elements and a character study: a gorgeous and nuanced portrayal of a young woman who overthinks things and gets tangled in her own head. I knew the basics of the plot, but reading the book was still compelling, thanks to the lush descriptions and Therese's complex and conflicted thoughts.

After watching the movie, it was interesting how the book only follows Therese. We only glimpse Carol's motivations and feelings as Therese does.

The aspects of the story which play up the limitations and danger of being a lesbian at that time are vivid but not overpowering. They are simply real and painful, as they were for the author and her contemporaries.

It's a truly lovely book, and I'm glad I read it.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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