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People Who Knock on the Door
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People Who Knock on the Door

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  287 ratings  ·  29 reviews
In a pitiless story of prying suburban self-righteousness, Patricia Highsmith introduces the Alderman family as they descend into moral crisis.

When small-town insurance salesman Richard Alderman becomes a born-again Christian, his once tight-knit family quickly begins to rip apart at the seams. He and his youngest son, Robbie, embrace their newfound faith, while his elder
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 17th 2001 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1983)
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Strangers on a Train by Patricia HighsmithThe Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia HighsmithRipley's Game by Patricia HighsmithDeep Water by Patricia HighsmithA Suspension of Mercy by Patricia Highsmith
Top Patricia Highsmith books
22nd out of 25 books — 9 voters
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia HighsmithStrangers on a Train by Patricia HighsmithThe Price of Salt, or Carol by Patricia HighsmithThe Blunderer by Patricia HighsmithThe Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Best of Patricia Highsmith
25th out of 39 books — 1 voter

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This is probably one of the most difficult books I've ever had to review. The book itself wasn't difficult, I don't mean that but it was, well, really different. The book is about an average American family, the Aldermans, who are changed for the worse when Richard, the father, believes a miracle saved his son from strep throat and becomes a fundamentalist Christian, a "born-again," as they are called throughout the book. His oldest son, Arthur, thinks he's lost his mind and ridicules and disres ...more
Being from Bible-Belt Texas herself, Patricia Highsmith would know about how born-agains affect other people's lives. Religious meddling just can't let people lead their own lives. A similar situation took place at the First Baptist Church in Pasadena, Texas, when I began dating the niece of our venerated pastor there. The pastor, I'm sure had no involvement in the matter because he was a great friend of the family, but the Sunday School teacher did. In my eyes, that person painted himself as ra ...more
James Perkins
This novel takes the dull pathos of the American suburbs of the early 1980s and transforms an average family into a born-again hell, highlighting the conservatism, delusions, and inherent hypocrisy that lie at the heart of Evangelism.

Arthur Alderman is an intelligent and responsible teenager with friends, a girlfriend, a part-time job, and is about to start college. He doesn't live a wild life, but his newly religious father, who believes his praying brought Arthur's sick brother Robbie back fro
I just finished Patricia Highsmith's, "People Who Knock On Doors." The funny thing was while the book was revelant in the Silent Moral Majority period of the eighties, I kept thinking of those people as Fifties sitcom like Leave it to the Beaver except Wally, in the form of Arthur, constantly gets laid.

Maybe I am jealous of Arthur's ability to get girls, but I did feel peevish when it seems as if Arthur kept complaining about how the father Richard refused to support him with college tutition
Daniel Woodward
This is not Patricia Highsmith's best novel, but she is always readable. The story is compelling and the characters are interesting. The main character Arthur is a teenager who is a bit selfish in his attitudes, but that is very true to life. Highsmith could have used a good editor because there are a few details she got wrong. First, the high school and college age kids drink a lot. That's OK, but they are constantly drinking a gin and tonic or some such adult cocktail. Beer and wine would have ...more
Some reviews suggest that Patricia Highsmith is making an overt statement about religion. But that sort of distinctness isn't her style. I don't think religion is the enemy or Arthur is the hero in the classic sense; he is as judgmental and fallible as his father and brother, and Highsmith is showing that disparate thoughts bring out the worst in all people. Through his family's "born again" religion, we find out that Arthur is a nice guy, but also judging and self-absorbed.

I didn't really enjoy
A peculiar book, even for Highsmith. I had to keep reminding myself that the events took place in the early 80s rather than the 50s. Maybe it's easier for Americans who were around during the Reagan years to relate. The plot: 17-year old Arthur's father becomes a very unpleasant born again Christian. His mother tries to keep the peace, younger brother Robbie (already a little worm-drowning-psycho) sides with Dad, leaving Arthur alone to combat the craziness.

Not sure how realistic the characters
Brian S
Something about the characters, in the dialog I think, is a little off or flat, as if it is hard to imagine a person of the given age and living at the particular place and time would say that. I don’t know if it’s stylistic or not as this is the first book by Highsmith I have read. It takes a while to really get going, but by the time the book hit its crescendo about 2/3 in, I was enjoying it. There are some interesting reversals of circumstance between two sets of characters who have diametric ...more
Jody  Julian
First, in all of Highsmith's books, everyone drinks copiously. It's just a given that there will be a gin and tonic offered at every social gathering. And, all of her books do have a 1950's feel, no matter what signs of the times she attempts to add to the plot. It's part of her kitsch and makes it all the more warped.
Picture a son on the brink of death and a dad who is praying fervently by his bedside. When the son survives, the father turns into a hard core born again Christian. His cult-lik
Kris - My Novelesque Life

"A story telling of how the members of an apparently ordinary family react to forces beyond their control, and how their different reactions create tensions between them." (From Amazon)

Another great suspense novel.
Kevin Tran
This is far from "mystery/suspense" as Highsmith usually is classified, but more or less a "campus" novel, about teenagers in the 80's, and about a tragedy of a family in the Mid-West. Very different from her other novels. However, it is nonetheless a real page-turner. I enjoyed it tremendously. Highsmith never disappoints!
"Strangers on a Train" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley" are the two books I read and thoroughly enjoyed prior to this one. Patricia Highsmith is a genius at suspense and believable quirky characters. So I waded patiently through the book till something finally happened, but by then it was too little too late.

A father of two sons becomes a born again Christian overnight and converts one of the sons. This drives a wedge through the family, leaving the other son as a demon and the mother as an ineffe
This was a hard to put down book. S/B required reading for all LDS before they go knocking on doors.
Il primo libro della Highsmith che leggo. Mi è piaciuto il suo modo di scrivere pulito, semplice, senza fronzoli, capace di creare immagini vive e realistiche.
La trama è intrigante: una classica famiglia della media borghesia viene sconvolta dall'improvviso fanatismo religioso del padre. Gli equilibri vengono sconvolti, la tranquillità spazzata via fino a degenerare in un punto di non ritorno.
Un bel libro, che coinvolge e che si fa leggere pagina dopo pagina.
There is something a little off about this book. Highsmith's stylized writing works with some of her uptight 1950s characters, but it didn't seem to fit in this book. One very jarring and disturbing element was her VERY unenlightened comments about race. She knows nothing of race-- so she'd have been better off leaving it out. I've read 90% of her books and this is one of the least successful. Still worth a look--but try others first.
Jenny Mulholland
Apparently an acclaimed suspense writer, I found this book to be really unusual but interesting and compelling enough to keep reading. For a while I wondered what was the suspense supposed to be? It was more a story of a young man and his girlfriend and weird family, but the end was sueprising no doubt. I'm curious to read more of her books at some point.
How do you give 3.5 stars anyway? I can only do 3 or 4.
Not for a moment did I believe that any of these characters were anything but characters in a novel. And not for a moment did I believe that Highsmith has any knowledge of teenagers, suburban life in the Midwest in the 80s (all that drinking with the adults! whatever her idea of a malt shop was!). Dull and disappointing.
Not in the top ranking of Highsmith books, but the closest she comes to an upbeat ending. A fun, spirited attack on self righteous religious people who insist on jamming their beliefs deep into your soul.
Great unsentimental hero of this tale is a slightly elderly wine drinking neighbor lady. I miss you Pat.
I don't read many novels and when I do I like one which makes me think. This novel deals with abortion and the evangelist types who go door-to-door with their pamphets. It's also a very readable novel. The writing just pulls you along.
Joella Tunnell
The story of an 18 year old boy whose father tries to inflict his religion on everybody. Sort of an everyday life sort of story set in the 1980's it has enough humor in it to keep it interesting, and there are some surprises.
Leggevo questo libro e mi hanno fermato per strada due ragazze con dei volantini in mano per raccontarmi della loro religione... aiuto! Sono scappata a gambe levate...
Mostly harrowing, marred by a meandering , anti-climactic finish. I can't see this anti-fundamentalist novel going over too well in the Age of Bush.
Patricia Highsmith è considerata una delle più grandi scrittrici noir...

A bit long but interesting story about religion and betrayal.
Awesome. No one is likable. Are any of her characters ever?
Um livro estranho! ( As pessoas Que Nos Batem À Porta )
Cover by my uncle Francisco d'Almeida e Vasconcelos Lapa.
Gente che Bussa alla Porta.
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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
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)

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