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The Price of Salt

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  18,356 Ratings  ·  1,895 Reviews
Arguably Patricia Highsmith's finest, The Price of Salt is story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United States, pursued by a private investigator who eventually blackmails ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published March 17th 2004 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1952)
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Brigi Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman, the Acclamation series by Vee Hoffman (warning, they contain explicit sex scenes, in case you're feeling icky…moreCall Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman, the Acclamation series by Vee Hoffman (warning, they contain explicit sex scenes, in case you're feeling icky about them), The Counterfeiters by Andre Gide (given that it's an older book, it's subtler). Just realised all involve couples where one half is younger, but none of these novels are YA. Hope this helped! :)(less)
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Catlick In the historical context of the novel, the 'pain[t]ing' might have been a nod to the existing Freudian view of the neurotic mechanisms that skewed…moreIn the historical context of the novel, the 'pain[t]ing' might have been a nod to the existing Freudian view of the neurotic mechanisms that skewed the development of a 'normal' sexual orientation from the innate. In the absence of a loving mother figure, Therese had an idealized image of the portrait to aspire to. She perhaps internalized this image, and it became part of her attraction map, (if you will). Her attraction to Carol was no less real as a result of this, but the recognition shocked her. Highsmith was constantly exploring images and ideas of what attracts and repels: Mrs Robicheck's plump dry aging hands with their remnant red polish and cheap rings, one with a "clear green stone' versus Carol's strong hands, red lacquered nails, and clear green sapphire ring.(less)
Tipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersFingersmith by Sarah WatersAnnie on My Mind by Nancy GardenKeeping You a Secret by Julie Anne PetersFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
Best Lesbian Fiction
9th out of 1,306 books — 1,601 voters
Fun Home by Alison BechdelTipping the Velvet by Sarah WatersFingersmith by Sarah WatersAnnie on My Mind by Nancy GardenFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg
100 Best Lesbian Fiction & Memoir Books Of All Time
13th out of 628 books — 750 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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S.
Sep 02, 2010 S. rated it it was amazing
Slinky 1950's couture, lesbian chic, unfiltered cigarettes and bottomless highballs have reappeared in the American zeitgeist and perhaps that style cycle is responsible for this sleek creature finally clawing its way out of confinement. It saddens me to think this book has been stuffed into a musty box labeled "lesbian romance" and left to molder for over fifty years.
It is a dark and forceful account of erotic obsession. It is a terrifying fairy tale told beside a phalanx of glass-eyed dolls
...more
Glenn Sumi
Dec 03, 2015 Glenn Sumi rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1900-1960
UPDATED, December 3, 2015: Just saw Carol, the Todd Haynes film adaptation starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Gorgeous looking, and very faithful to the book. The cinematographer captures the era beautifully, and Haynes plays a lot with windows and reflections in an effective way. Therese's profession has been changed from budding set designer to budding photographer, which works well for a visual medium. The two leads are terrific, and Mara particularly makes you understand this character ...more
Alice
Jan 09, 2015 Alice rated it really liked it
Ok. I have Feelings about this book. And there might be some spoilery things, but no more than I was spoiled before reading it, so...it's probably not too bad.

I spent a large part of this being depressed because Carol's a total dick to Therese most of the time. HOWEVER. Omg the ending. Basically the last 20 or so pages. Awesome. And who doesn't love a road trip book? Because this is two ladies in love WHO ROAD TRIP IT. In the '50s. In America. Like Lolita, but less child-rapey. (I would like thi
...more
BrokenTune
Feb 07, 2016 BrokenTune rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
‘Don’t you want to forget it, if it’s past?’
‘I don’t know. I don’t know just how you mean that.’
‘I mean, are you sorry?’
‘No. Would I do the same thing again? Yes.’
‘Do you mean with somebody else, or with her?’
‘With her,’ Therese said. The corner of her mouth went up in a smile.
‘But the end was a fiasco.’
‘Yes. I mean I’d go through the end, too.’
‘And you’re still going through it.’
Therese didn’t say anything.


Patricia Highsmith got the idea for Carol (or The Price of Salt as it was named originall
...more
Maria
Oct 19, 2015 Maria rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, lgbtq
I should be asleep by now... I even turned off the lights! I just couldn't, though, I just couldn't stop thinking. The first word that comes to mind after reading this novel? Odd. This was my first Highsmith's book and she has quite a personal writing style. It's different... but you find yourself going with the strange flow of words. I can't believe this was written in the 50's. The ending is so... bittersweet! I am still rather lost in it... Their relationship? It just happens. I must confess ...more
Carol
Jan 05, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it
Salt, as defined by Merriam-Webster: “…. an ingredient that gives savor, piquancy, or zest”….; or, as it relates to this story, the price (sacrifice) these women paid to live their lives truthfully (hence, the book title, I’m guessing). I admired Highsmith’s nerve and honesty for tackling this lesbian love story in the time period when it was so obviously taboo.

Therese Belivet is a young and struggling set designer working in a department store when she meets and instantly becomes enamored with
...more
dean
May 27, 2012 dean rated it it was amazing
This book had me in pieces by the end. That last chapter, oh my god.

Never mind the notion of Patricia Highsmith as an "unloving and unlovable woman"-- she clearly understood the painful delicate aches of love and loving and, having lost, the bittersweet triumph in growing up. The Price of Salt carries an emotional honesty that is exquisite and devastating.

Highsmith's prose is simple but she realizes even the smallest moments with a keen observance. The results are gorgeous and tender, and at tim
...more
Hadrian


All joking aside, this is a well-plotted and engaging romantic story, which works on multiple themes. There is the 'coming out' narrative mixed with travel, the 'love under pressure' theme, and the suspense and fear of being compromised. Highsmith is an uncanny writer when it comes to describing human behavior - in personal tics or conversation or gesture.

Sixty years after, this genre needs more happy endings. This is a story that lives and breathes.
Catherine
Dec 10, 2015 Catherine rated it it was amazing
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS!!!!!

ALERT!!!! BIG BIG SPOILERS!!!


The Price of Salt, published in 1952, is considered the first book—and the only one for a very long time afterwards—to depict a lesbian relationship with a happy ending. Having just reread it, what strikes me now is how anyone, even lesbians, especially lesbians, could have thought that losing custody of your child with no visitation rights and being publicly humiliated in court and in the newspapers constituted a happy ending.

But we
...more
Νόρα
Jan 06, 2016 Νόρα rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Το μυθιστόρημα Κάρολ περιστρέφεται γύρω από την ερωτική σχέση δύο πολύ διαφορετικών γυναικών, της δεκαεννιάχρονης Τερίζ που εργάζεται ως υπάλληλος σε κάποιο κατάστημα και της παντρεμένης και κομψής Κάρολ.
Αυτό που με εντυπωσίασε περισσότερο ήταν πώς η συγγραφέας έδωσε ελάχιστη προσοχή στις ερωτικές σκηνές και επικεντρώθηκε περισσότερο στα συναισθήματα και τις επιθυμίες που μοιράζονταν μεταξύ τους,αντιμετωπίζοντας το θέμα με τεράστια ευαισθησία και σεβασμό.Δεν πιστεύω ότι ήθελε να γράψει κάτι μόνο
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Feb 21, 2016 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
I wanted to read this before watching the movie ("Carol"), but I first found out about it from the fictional librarian in Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness. From the marketing of this title I could not tell if it was more of a love story or a thriller, and knowing Patricia Highsmith I held my breath through the entire book waiting for someone to turn into a sociopath.

This novel is set in the early 1950s, a time where not many women were openly involved in relationships with one another, leaving T
...more
Michael
Jan 10, 2016 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How was it possible to be afraid and in love, Therese thought. The two things did not go together. How was it possible to be afraid, when the two of them grew stronger together every day? And every night. Every night was different, and every morning. Together they possessed a miracle.

Some of you may remember back to my review of The Book of Lost and Found when i boldly declared "barring something truly amazing coming along later this year, I am happy to declare this exceptional read my book of t
...more
Bandit
Nov 22, 2011 Bandit rated it it was amazing
If you read enough books, you're bound to become jaded once in a while by all the sub par ones out there and then a book like The Price of Salt comes along to remind you just how great a book can really be and what a reading experience should really be like. Yes, I loved this book THAT much :)
My only other experience with Highsmith's work until then has been through Ripley movies and I liked the character of Ripley, but not enough to track down the books. I picked up this book, because the cover
...more
Emily
Jan 04, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shit, I picked a great book to start the year off with. Honestly this will probably end up being one of my favorites of the year and of ever. Maybe I actually screwed myself over because I can only see my reading going downhill from here, honestly.

I'm working on building up my ~new and improved~ BlueEyedBiblio blog (!!!!) which I'm really excited about so I won't be posting full reviews on here anymore. I'm going to leave short blurbs here and then link to my full review on my blog (once it's u
...more
Kristi
Dec 26, 2015 Kristi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-books-ever
so, i read a review of Terry Castle's new book "The Professor" in last Sunday's NYT, and, intrigued, googled her to find out more about her.

Many years ago, Castle wrote a book about Les Lit. I mean, this woman has read everything in that (typically horrible and wrist-slashingly painful) genre. In an interview, she said The Price of Salt is the best of its kind, hands down.

Not only that, but she went on to document how this novel inspired Lolita AND Thelma and Louise! I mean, with those two ref
...more
Tammy
Dec 19, 2015 Tammy rated it it was ok
I've tried and tried and tried to understand why people like these two characters and their story so much. I've tried to come to it with an open mind and eyes ready to see whatever it is everyone else sees. But I just cannot seem to do it. I can't read Therese as anything but a petulant child with an obsessive fixation on someone she barely knows. I don't understand the swooning over Carol when, to me, she's written so nebulously that it's almost as if she isn't even present in the novel, let al ...more
☮Karen
I enjoyed the first of this author's Ripley novels back when they made it into a film, and loved the movie Strangers on a Train (Hitchcock!), so when I saw that this book is also a soon-to-be-released film starring Cate Blanchett, I couldn't wait to read it. Of course then I could easily picture Blanchett in the role of Carol, a divorcing woman with a child who strikes up a friendship with a young NYC department store clerk, Therese. It becomes more than a friendship as Therese is rather obsesse ...more
Agirlcandream
Sep 09, 2015 Agirlcandream rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I've been listening to the Price of Salt, a literary lesbian classic. The writing is spare and emotions are masked. Therese is innocence trapped within an old soul. She knows her heart and she recognizes in Carol all that has been missing from her life.

Carol is worldly and not easy to like. All that sophistication yet she is drawn to a teenage store clerk and wannabe set designer. They couldn't make an odder couple and yet. And yet. The scenes and dialogue between these too are so vibrant, so do
...more
Jennifer
Feb 22, 2016 Jennifer rated it really liked it
“Was it love or wasn't it that she felt for Carol? And how absurd it was that she didn't even know. She had heard about girls falling in love, and she knew what kind of people they were and what they looked like. Neither she nor Carol looked like that. Yet the way she felt about Carol passed all the tests for love and fitted all the descriptions.”

First published in 1952, Highsmith's "The Price of Salt" was likely considered quite risque at its debut as it explores the intimate relationship betwe
...more
Jem
Sep 01, 2015 Jem rated it really liked it
Let's get this out of the way first: I'm only reading this book because of Cate Blanchett, and not because it's an outstanding literary work of fiction, which it is. Sorry but I'm hopelessly stuck in the 'lowly' lesbian romance genre. 8-)

Anyway, who can possibly miss all the buzz about the upcoming movie adaptation, especially one with Ms. Blanchett in it. But I remember the last time I watched an f/f movie or Tv adaptation before I read the book (Fingersmith)--the glances, the blank stares and
...more
Aditi
“The more you love,the more love you have to give.It's the only feeling we have which is infinite...”

----Christina Westover, an American novelist


Patricia Highsmith, an American classic novelist, has penned an incredible tale of love and despair between two same-sex human beings, originally known as The Price of Salt. Later it was re-published with the title, Carol. And in the wake of Supreme Court's decision to legalize same-sex marriage across all the states of USA, I chose to write the revi
...more
Joannah Rose
I'm at loss for words. I think any word would be an understatement of how beautiful this novel is. And I loved it so much I wanted to preserve it at the chasms of my memory, for it to stay forever perfect in its imperfections. The Price of Salt, despite its slow and tugging points, is a remarkable, satiating and long foreplay I didn't want to end. I wanted to linger on each and every page, to read and re-read its lines, to play the scenes repeatedly in my head. It wasn't exactly the most perfect ...more
Bean Delphiki
Considering how many people seem to have adored this one, I wish I could say that I even got beyond the first few chapters. But I didn't. The characters started off so flat that a steamrolled pancake might have more depth, and the book moved at the pace of a snail. When I realised that I was supposed to find a character that I would have never paid attention to in another novel "mysterious," I knew I wouldn't like this book. I read a handful of more pages anyway, but it didn't win me over.

I gave
...more
Darlene
Aug 22, 2012 Darlene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Darlene by: lesbian readers
As usual, I feel beneath those who classified this as classic. Once again I feel classic means no spirit, no passion, just a bunch of words to help the reader feel the pain of the author, or characters. Ok, I didn't finish but I felt 50% of the book was more than enough time for me to care about something.

First, I don't believe in the main character who calls herself a New Yorker yet says very little. Not in my experience. And she says she's in love with the other woman but has never asked that
...more
Joy
I saw the movie "Carol" before I read the book that it was based on, even though I usually prefer to read the book first. In this case, I liked the movie much more than the book. It was such a good film with wonderful performances by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. I thought the book was a little dull in comparison. Maybe I would have liked it more if I'd read it first. The movie is quite faithful to the book although Therese is a photographer in the film and a set designer in the book.

Anyway,
...more
Holly
Jun 04, 2016 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
4.5, maybe 5 stars. Very very good.
J.
Mar 15, 2016 J. rated it really liked it
..spoilers ahead..

Girls Night Out.
How did I not read this years ago, seeing that Highsmith is arguably the best/ my favorite --mystery author ?* This is the rare case where I can answer that with certainty. Having read every single standard mystery offering by PH, and having read several of them a second time with total enjoyment, the reason that I gave this title a skip-- is because Dashiell Hammet wrote Westerns. Really, that Dashiell Hammet. Westerns, with horses, spurs, the works.

A Home Whe
...more
Mel
OMG this book had the DULLEST LESBIANS EVER!!! I have read a lot of early queer pulp and normally I love them for their honesty and the raw emotion they present. Here there was none of that, everything just felt like it was being written about behind a veil. There was none of the soul searching and the camaraderie that is found in other lesbian pulps. The writing style did nothing for me either, I felt it was very dry. I almost felt like someone had described being in a queer relationship to Pat ...more
Elaine
Dec 12, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
The first half is a bit slow, and odd in a very Highsmithian way. The 2nd half rushes along, sings, in fact - a sexy love story that also has the patented Highsmith themes of menace and suspense. What a brave bold book to have written in 1952. At one point, I was waiting for a suicidal gesture from one of the female protagonists -- because as Highsmith points out in her afterword written in 1989, that's what literature did to gay characters in that era. But Highsmith doesn't play that game. She ...more
Anna *hiatus*
Apr 13, 2016 Anna *hiatus* rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
“January
It was all things. And it was one thing, like a solid door. Its cold sealed the city in a gray 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.
...more
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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
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“I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.” 1262 likes
“Do people always fall in love with things they can't have?'

'Always,' Carol said, smiling, too.”
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