Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Glass Cell” as Want to Read:
The Glass Cell
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Glass Cell

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  369 ratings  ·  30 reviews
Rife with overtones of Dostoyevsky, The Glass Cell, first published forty years ago, combines a quintessential Highsmith mystery with a penetrating critique of the psychological devastation wrought by the prison system. Falsely convicted of fraud, the easygoing but naive Philip Carter is sentenced to six lonely, drug-ravaged years in prison. Upon his release, Carter is a m ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published June 17th 2004 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1964)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Glass Cell, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Glass Cell

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 664)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I begin this post with a warning to the many devoted Goldfinch fans who evidently put the latest Tartt magnum opus on a par with the Bible. You won’t like this, not one little bit. You see, I put down The Goldfinch smack bang in the middle of it and picked up The Glass Cell, which I didn’t stop reading until I finished it. ‘OMG, How COULD you? The greatest book in the whole history of books ever and you did THAT????’ I can hear them all, as I write. Well, I did, so there.

I needed to take somethi
Maria João Fernandes
"Sem o resto do mundo para dizer a um homem quando devia comer ou dormir, quando devia trabalhar e parar de o fazer, sem todas as outras pessoas a fazer coisas para imitar, um indivíduo podia ficar louco."

Ao aproximar-me do fim dos livros da Patricia Highsmith, penso que qualquer leitor apaixonado pelo género mistério devia ter vergonha, se ainda não conhece a autora. Por outro lado, esperam-lhe grandes estranhos, maravilhosos e assustadores livros! Ninguém escreve como Patricia Highsmith e as s
Carla Remy
The first half of this 1964 novel is about life in prison, anxious and violent but surprisingly readable. The second half is about life after prison, developing into a classic Highsmithian tale of murder, guilt and lack of guilt.
I liked this book, although I think that, compared to contemporary standards for suspense novels, it is probably a little tame. It's like comparing a Hitchcock movie to the Bourne Ultimatum. What transpires here happens slowly, and it's subtle enough that it may bore the pants off more impatient readers. However, if you are not one of those, you will probably enjoy that Highsmith is a talented writer, if not a flashy one (She reminds me of another of her similarly overlooked contemporaries, Paul ...more
Of the three recently read Highsmiths, this is the best. Engineer Philip Carter is wrongly-imprisoned and spends six years inside, slowly becoming addicted to morphine and paranoid that his wife is having an affair with lawyer David Sullivan. During his incarceration Carter becomes hardened both physically and emotionally, capable of murder. Perhaps surprisingly for a female writer, Highsmith's male characters are more rounded and credible than their female counterparts who tend to be stereotypi ...more
The first part was so heavy that I needed to get away from the book from time to time, even though the writing is superb. The second part, however, I found so fascinating that I literally couldn't put the book down. One of the best Highsmith novels I've read.
Max Tomlinson
Move over Ripley.

If you read suspense and have not read Patricia Highsmith yet, first of all, shame on you and second, you have some weird and wonderful (and terrifying) books ahead. No one wrote like Highsmith did, and at the time she did. Her novels deliver in the classic thriller/mystery/suspense department for those of you simply looking for an edgy ride over a psychological cliff but they’re also weighty and literate and truly unique. Her characters are odd, not in the Elmore Leonard sense,
Daniel Gamboa
What a pleasent and engaging surprise this book was. This is the 6th non-Ripley Highsmith book that I read and I am surprised it hasn't received the attention it deserves. I have never been a fan of books about life in prison, and that's why I think I enjoyed it even more.

The first half of book is about Phill Carter's life in prison. It mostly deals with his experience during his first years there, but after a while, I was a bit bored because it offered nothing I didn't know already. However, th
Tom O'brien
Originally published in 1964 (1965 in the United Kingdom), The Glass Cell is the product of a correspondence between Highsmith and a prison inmate who wrote her about enjoying Deep Water. According to her biographies, Highsmith thought her novels should not be in prisons, due to the themes around which they centre. Highsmith struggled to write and finish the novel; however it has gone on to gain modest popularity within Highsmith fan circles. It has gained extended critical attention in Fiona Pe ...more
This is my fifteenth Highsmith book and it covers new ground. The change in setting to a prison brings a new mix of problems to her characters. In classic Highsmith storytelling, (view spoiler). Like many of the Highsmith novels, the characters and events circle around and around until they reach the breaking point.

The dedication:
To my dear cat
born in Palisades,
Kafkaesque in its dark nightmarish portrayal of the individual fighting against the beurocratic system. Being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Showing the barbaric realities of prison looking life. Even after the tortures endured for 6yrs the anti-hero is still no longer free from his pursuers and his never ending nightmare of trouble, blame and murder! But he is certainly not whiter than white. After the hardened and drugged fulled experience of prison Carter is no longer willing to be the ...more
Theryn Fleming
In The Glass Cell, the MC is an ordinary guy who is wrongly convicted of a crime. The first half of the book covers his six years in prison; the second half what happens when he returns "home" (to where his wife now lives). TGC is billed as a psychological thriller, but that's not really accurate. It works as a psychological study, but it's lacking the sense of suspense that Highsmith's more well-known books have. It's not thrilling. It is sad. If you're looking for cheery escapism, this is not ...more
Tyler Jones
A book neatly divided into two halves. The first part deals with life in prison for a wrongly convicted man and makes a powerful argument that the prison system does a better job of making criminals than it does at reforming them. I felt the second half to be somewhat weaker - I was not convinced that a character as self-aware as the protagonist seemed to be would fall victim to his passions so easily. The prison stuff seemed convincing and interesting, but in the last half the story seemed forc ...more
4.5 if I had the option
This time Highsmith's microscope is trained on the mind of a man subtly corrupted by imprisonment and betrayal. The plot is straightforward and there's not a lot of action, but nevertheless you can't put the book down--you feel as if you are living the protagonist's life along with him, and it's a relentlessly grim experience. Highsmith proves you don't need a lot of gratuitous violence and melodrama to mesmerise the reader.
John Marr
The first half of the book paints the most horrifying portait of prison life I've ever read, much more likely leave you "scared straight" than any of the sodomy-laced products of far more macho writers. The post prison half isn't as good, but since this is Highsmith, it meands it's merely great. And disturbing, of course.
One of the darkest, grittiest Patricia Highsmith books I've read. I love everything of hers I've read but this was amazing.

I enjoyed this. It had a different feel from other Highsmith novels - maybe because it was set solely in America? But like all of her great characters, there's a moment when the character's thought process becomes a little twisted and the judgement thoroughly "off."
Highsmith creates a world of ordered, easily rationalized violence--malice creeps up slowly, almost unbeknownst to the reader. This strange world and the logic in murderous minds are Highsmith's strengths, and she displays them with great facility in this novel.
Patricia Highsmith was an unexpected find. Often I see the movie and then find the book later or vice verse. In this case she wrote "The Talented Mr.Ripley" series among many others. The Glass Cell was written in 1964 and is a vibrant and powerful story.
Princess Kristin
It wasn't at all what I was expecting. There really wasn't a mystery; it was a look at a life changed by wrongful conviction and prison. It was quite compelling and definitely holds up over time. Well worth reading.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nenia Campbell
This book reminds me a lot of this other book I just finished by the amazing British comedian, Stephen Fry. The book, Revenge, was not a comedy, though. It was a very dark retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, and he really did a fantastic job. I kind of wonder if he was inspired by this book, because there are many parallels. Innocent man gets sent to prison. Gets subject to horrible torture and abuse. Makes friend in prison who helps him bide his time until his release/escape. Leaves prison ...more
Joseph Longo
Though I am a Patricia Highsmith fan, I could not get into this novle. It was too tame for a book about men in prison. The writing was dull and not as lively as her good novels. Disappointed.
Colleen Quigley
for patricia highsmith this book was just ok. for other authors I may have regarded it much higher
This was a fantastic book, I loved the suspense and the author's development of the characters.
Highsmith at her very best. Read this!
Thanh bui
her tom ripley series is a better read.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 22 23 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Ride the Pink Horse
  • I Burn Paris
  • The Widow
  • The Instant Enemy
  • The Riddle of the Traveling Skull
  • The Brunist Day of Wrath
  • The Mad and the Bad
  • Phantom Lady
  • The Search
  • The Nothing Man
  • Wild Wives
  • Deep Politics and the Death of JFK
  • The Damned Season
  • The Beetle Leg
  • Black Friday and Selected Stories
  • Avenue des Géants
  • Lizzie!
  • The Judges of the Secret Court
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
More about Patricia Highsmith...
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1) Strangers on a Train The Price of Salt, or Carol Ripley's Game (Ripley, #3) Ripley Under Ground (Ripley, #2)

Share This Book

“The justice I have received, I shall give back.” 23 likes
“And everything was made of paper: sentences, pardons, pleas, bad records, demerits, proof of guilt, but never, it seemed, proof of innocence. If there were no paper, Carter felt, the entire judicial system would collapse and disappear.” 1 likes
More quotes…