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Small g: A Summer Idyll

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  343 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Finally published in the United States ten years after Patricia Highsmith's death, Small g, in the words of her biographer Andrew Wilson, is an "extended fairy tale suggesting that…happiness is precarious and…romance should be embraced."

In unmistakable Highsmithian fashion, the novel opens in a seedy Zurich bar with the brutal murder of Peter Ritter. Unraveling the vagarie
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published June 30th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1994)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Richard Derus
Dec 14, 2015 Richard Derus rated it liked it
Rating: 3* of five, though it seems mingy

The Publisher Says: Finally published in the United States ten years after Patricia Highsmith's death, Small g, in the words of her biographer Andrew Wilson, is an "extended fairy tale suggesting that…happiness is precarious and…romance should be embraced."

In unmistakable Highsmithian fashion, the novel opens in a seedy Zurich bar with the brutal murder of Peter Ritter. Unraveling the vagaries of love, sexuality, jealousy, and death, Highsmith weaves a my
Maria João Fernandes
"Idílio no Verão" é uma comédia amarga sobre a educação e os modos das pessoas, principalmente em relação à homossexualidade.

A acção tem lugar em Zurique, onde Rickie acaba de perder o seu amante, Peter, que foi esfaqueado até à morte. Seis meses depois, apesar de o trágico acontecimento ainda estar presente na sua mente, Rickie vê-se novamente apaixonado.

Sempre acompanhado pelo seu pequeno cão Lulu, filho de cães de circo, Rickie vai diariamente ao bar Jakob's, para tomar o pequeno almoço e con
Jul 19, 2011 OK rated it it was amazing
I am at a loss for words, but has that ever stopped me?

Patricia Highsmith is AMAZING. This is only the third book of her catalog I've read and I am completely enthralled... I think I'm in love with her.

The way she writes. Her style. It's elegant and raunchy and she creates this other, very definite world without hardly any detail.

She leaves things out and lets your imagination take over. It's scary how I've got this visual in my head, and I'm certain of what the room she's describing looks like
James Perkins
With barely any plot to speak of, what paltry story there was centred around a gay advertising copywriter who lives in Zurich and his circle of friends. As I am not gay, I have never worked in advertising, and I have never been to Switzerland, and the author was not really able to bring me into any of these worlds, it was difficult to relate to any of the characters. For example, apart from everybody drinking plenty of beer and speaking the occasional word in German, the text failed to evoke a ...more
Mar 13, 2011 Andy rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: highsmith fans
Recommended to Andy by: pirate jenny
Patricia Highsmith leaves the world the way she came in: writing about homosexuality, and not surprisingly just as she experienced adversity over her first novel “The Price of Salt” her American publishers refused to release “Small g”.
“Small g” is good Highsmith, it follows the aftermath of a fatal gay bash in a Zurich alleyway and how it affects the late young man’s aging lover, his deluded girlfriend and the close-knit Zurich gay community. I found the choice of location, Switzerland, interes
Dec 22, 2008 Jeff rated it did not like it
This gets one whole star because I can't give it a half star. One wonders how much Highsmith's tin ear is to blame for the preposterous dialogue or was it bad British editors or both.

My advice on Highsmith, having read all her novels, is don't bother with anything after 1965, that includes that later Ripley novels.
Aug 17, 2009 Ingrid rated it it was amazing
I miss those characters already...
Greg Z
Dec 15, 2015 Greg Z rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"Alone, alone, the piece ended...funny, Rickie thought, that the paper would print it, and yet its naivety, its intensity, was much in its favor" writes Highsmith about a newspaper article published within this story . Odd how this quote pretty much sums up the story: we have mostly naïve characters at the mercy of an intense, twisted villain. Very odd the book jacket tells us this is a "delightful story." And it's particularly odd that Highsmith's American publisher refused this final work and ...more
Aug 14, 2012 Amber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: amiblue
So, it turns out that there are other things in life besides who you sleep with. And that people whose sleeping-with decisions are made unlike your own can still actually be good friends.
(view spoiler)
Jan 01, 2012 Şenol rated it it was amazing
Kesinlikle bir film tadında. Okurken sanki film izler gibi oldum.
Rachel Stevenson
Queer As Folk, Zurich style.
Sep 20, 2008 J. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: .. late-works highsmith fans ...
Shelves: mystery, highsmith
For her very last full-length novel, this is entertaining but relatively uninvolving, a hard to imagine but nearly 'cozy' mystery from Patricia Highsmith. If by cozy you mean a murder on the first page and a swirl of contempt and suspicion ...

Foul play occurs amongst the diverse & multi-sexual clientele of the 'small g' bar and restaurant in Zurich .. the title itself a designation from a guidebook meant to convey gay but unrestricted... If you've ever lived in a gentrifying neighborhood, y
Mar 07, 2013 Misha rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, irish
BookList: This final book from esteemed crime writer Highsmith, who died in 1995, is more a complement to her pseudonymous lesbian novel Price of Salt than to her better known Ripley thrillers. The action centers on Jakob’s, a pub in Zurich known as “Small g” for its “partially gay” clientele. A colorful clash of characters meet and mingle at Small g, including Rickie, a self-consciously aging gay man; Luisa, a young seamstress with a troubled past; Renate, Luisa’s controlling and viciously ...more
Jan 14, 2010 Matt rated it liked it
I'd finally heard Highsmith name-checked enough times-- I think the last was in Hempel's collected stories-- that I thought I should read something, and picked up this one, which maybe is or isn't one of her better books....

What it is is a serious and interesting take on gay culture in Zurich. We've got a couple overlapping stories, of 40ish Ricky and then, if I recall, Luanne or something like that, a younger woman, who once crushed on Ricky's boyfriend-- said boyfriend is killed in the first c
Aug 19, 2016 Venessa rated it really liked it
Highsmith's last novel and aside from the murder that opens the story, quite different from her others. The Small g is really Jakob's, an establishment frequented by regulars in the neighborhood and designated the small g in tourist guidebooks to let visitors know that while a lot of gay people might be there it's not exclusively a Gay hangout. The novel examines the relationship between Rickie, beloved older man with his even more beloved dog Lulu and boyfriend of the aforementioned victim, and ...more
May 21, 2015 Bruce rated it it was ok
When asked about my favorite authors, Patricia Highsmith is usually in the top four or five that I'll rattle off. That said, her final book (completed a year before her death in 1995) was a disappointment. While it featured plenty of vivid, descriptive writing and off-kilter characters (including--naturally--some sociopaths), the plot ended right where it began: nowhere. Given the suspense and intrigue of her earlier writing, I kept expecting something more to happen, some surprise twist...right ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 25, 2008 Jeannen rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Small g I bought after reading a review somewhere – not sure where. I am going to have to start keeping track of where I get these recommendations from, because whatever the review said, this book left me unimpressed. I did read it all the way through – no skimming. At the beginning of the book I found myself unable to identify with any of the characters, and I thought I as exhibiting a form of snobbery – not being able to be interested in characters who I would never become friends with if I ...more
Dec 05, 2009 Ivan rated it liked it
The easiest way to describe Highsmith's final novel "Small g: A Summer Idyll" is to say it's a 150 page story trapped in a 300 page book. Having said that, I must admit that this novel is not without virtues: actually, the story is quite strong, the characters are an endearing assortment of straights and gays tangled up in a pseudo-mystery, the scenario is not uninteresting (it could make a first rate film - Rupert Everett would be great as Ricky) - which is why I pushed myself to finish. ...more
Sarah Murphy
Aug 05, 2016 Sarah Murphy rated it liked it
not as good as Highsmith's 'carol' though a nice book, a little slow paced at times. The characters are interesting but at times Luisa seems to me a little two dimensional. Dorrie appears far to easy going. While for me Rickie was written with the most depth. Apart from a few deaths, not that much really happens and if you are looking for a book with romance, look elsewhere. It is at best playful and at least for Luisa about discovery. Worth a read.
Ann Freeman
Aug 12, 2011 Ann Freeman rated it liked it
Patricia Highsmith's final novel before her death. I found the story and set of characters interesting. Sympahized with the young employee stifled by her oppressive employer. Followed with interest the various relationships centered around the clientele of a mostly-gay local pub. Was a lightly entertaining read, but not captivating.
Jun 02, 2011 Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery-crime
I liked this, but not as much as The The Talented Mr. Ripley and This Sweet Sickness. I missed the focus on one dark character. This novel is lighter, more a portrait of a community of friends than a deep exploration of an individual. Looking forward to continuing with Highsmith, but back to some earlier works.
Jan 15, 2011 Melanie rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2010
I just don't care about Rickie, the circles he moves in, his dog, his business or the city he lives in. There's something hollow about the book and I have a feeling it's not going to get any better. I have always felt that I have missed out on Highsmith and was pleased to pick this book up in one of my Goodwill forays, but this can't be one of her best.
Jan 21, 2016 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: usa, jaren1990
I enjoyed this book very much. It's obviously not as strong stylistically as Patricia Highsmith's other books (those that I've read, so far, anyway) and there's much less plot, but the characters are very strong, as usual. Not my favourite by her, but it'd still be a new favourite had it been written by anybody else.
Aug 30, 2010 Joy rated it liked it
Published pot-humously in America. Author best known for "The Talented Mr. Ripley". " intriguing novel about gay society in the early '90's in Zurich". Not a hugely compelling read but I felt trust backward in time & thought. Worth reading for something different.
I wasn't sure about this at first but liked it in the end. Not like her crime novels, and if anything like a Swiss 'Tales of The City' but with a lot less humour. Still, if you like her style, and want to read her only later novel about gay characters then give it a go.
Apr 14, 2015 Rj rated it it was ok
As other authors have written this posthumously published book suffers from a lack of plot. Nothing really happens to a collection of characters who frequent an LGBT friendly bar in Zurich. Highsmith paints great word pictures but these are not enough to sustain a reader.
Aug 30, 2007 Arielle added it
Shelves: uhireallytried
I tried my best to finish this book but just couldn't, gave up in the middle of last winter. Her writing style is very intriguing, the characters interesting, and the plot grabbing but I just couldn't finish it. I wonder what it was about this book, I really don't know.
Louise Armstrong
Feb 08, 2016 Louise Armstrong rated it it was ok
This may have been a fabulous comment on the small, tedious nature of real crime, but if so it was far too subtle for me and I found it boring.

I have enjoyed other books by Highsmith.
Mar 16, 2011 Sandra rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
It could have been written in 50 pages. I kept waiting for something to happen. Maybe Woody Allen really wrote this book?
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Patricia Highsmith was an American novelist who is known mainly for her psychological crime thrillers which have led to more than two dozen film adaptations over the years.

She lived with her grandmother, mother and later step-father (her mother divorced her natural father six months before 'Patsy' was born and married Stanley Highsmith) in Fort Worth before moving with her parents to New York in
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