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The Price of Salt, or Carol

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  6,685 ratings  ·  548 reviews
Now recognized as a masterwork, the scandalous novel that anticipated Nabokov's Lolita and is soon to be a film starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

"I have long had a theory that Nabokov knew The Price of Salt and modeled the climactic cross-country car chase in Lolita on Therese and Carol's frenzied bid for freedom," writes Terry Castle in The New Republic about this
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 17th 2004 by W.W. Norton & Company (first published 1952)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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S.
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
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Glenn Sumi


Published in 1952 under the pen name Claire Morgan, this book by the author of the Ripley novels and Strangers On A Train chronicles the love between 19-year-old set designer Therese and the wealthier, older and more worldly suburban mom Carol.

The lesbian plot might feel slightly tame today, and Therese comes across as overly passive (Highsmith addresses this in the afterward). But the novel, Highsmith's second, is well-structured, sensitively written (at times it's almost claustrophobic in its
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Alice
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
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Kristi
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
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dean
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
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Maria
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
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
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Joannah Rose
I'm at a 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 perfe ...more
Bandit
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
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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
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Elaine
Dec 12, 2011 Elaine rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Elaine Burnes
Despite the fact that the edition I purchased (through Barnes & Noble, no less) was likely pirated (check the publisher and don't buy the CreateSpace one; it has two faces on the cover), and the formatting was dreadful and full of errors, this is really a stunning story. To think that it was written in the 1950s. I haven't read a lot of lesbian fiction from that era (some Ann Bannon and other stories written later but taking place back then), but I loved the '50s vibe, the way the women dres ...more
Lord Beardsley
Patricia Highsmith fascinates me in her writing style. It's particular specifically to her, and I've never read an author quite like her in terms of style. There's always something very removed about the way she handles her characters. Very observant and always laced with a bit of cruelty.

This is a book I've been wanting to read for a long time, and read it as part of the AfterEllen book club. I'm glad I finally had an excuse to tackle it. I've read all but the very last of the Ripley books (wh
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Lucrezia
"Verresti?"

Questo è il primo libro di Patricia Highsmith che leggo ed è stata una rivelazione.

Ci sono a volte periodi bui in cui leggiamo o guardiamo film o anche solo parliamo con gli altri per cercare una conferma.
Una conferma che a volte nel mondo a qualcuno le cose possono andare meglio che a noi che almeno nei libri, nei film e nelle storie altrui c'è un lieto fine nonostante tutto, nonostante tutti.
La maggior parte delle volte non è così. Ma ci sono volte in cui invece inaspettatamente le
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Andy
May 13, 2010 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: romantics
Shelves: gay-lesbian
Brilliant romance novel about a young, dark Bohemian girl falling for an iceberg blonde suburbanite. Although written over sixty years ago, this lesbian love story never feels exploitative and lurid. You'll even find yourself falling for Carol, the Grace Kelly from Hell, because she transcends any gay stereotype. It's a true testament to Patricia Highsmith's genius this lesbian love story can be enjoyed by straights too because it's a classic romance novel.
Sarah
I can't figure out how I missed reading this when I was in college and inhaling anything with same-sex story-lines I could find. I enjoyed this immensely because it feels so acutely of a particular time and place. The reviews I have read of it fail to remind readers that the backdrop of this novel was early 1950s America as the cold war ramped up and Macarthyism was beginning to rampage through the country. Being homosexual was not only seen as a perversion and a mental illness, but you could be ...more
Darlene
Aug 22, 2012 Darlene rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  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
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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
This book is supposed to be a cult classic, and one thing I’ve learned about cult classics is that from the outside it’s often hard to see the appeal. So it went here: I don’t consider this a bad book, but it didn’t do much for me.

Therese is on her own at age 19 in mid-20th-century New York City, an aspiring set designer working in a department store, and halfheartedly dating a boy who wants to marry her. All that changes when she meets Carol, a soon-to-be-divorced 30-something mother; for There
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Evan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris
I have mixed feelings about this book by Patricia Highsmith, who also wrote the Ripley series, as well as Strangers on a Train which Hitchbock turned into a film. The book is a landmark because it was one of the first to have a (fairly) happy ending for its main protagonists - a lesbian couple. However, the book is a sluggish read, very much a melodrama of the 1950s. The characters are stiff and formal and the reader isn't able to make much of a connection. There is no joking in this novel! The ...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - 15 Minute Drama:
A tender and unsettling love story about two women - one of them married, and the other nineteen - who risk everything to be together.

Written by Patricia Highsmith, who is best-known as one of the twentieth century's most accomplished thriller-writers - a role she assumed overnight when Alfred Hitchcock turned her sublimely disturbing first novel, Strangers On A Train, into a hit movie in 1951.

Written a year later, Carol broke all the rules for the portrayal of
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Jasmine
Starts off really slow and is actually incredibly boring for the first two-thirds of the book, which surprised me because of its high acclaim from other GR readers and critics.

I was quite disappointed with the sluggish writing style, because I feel like it could have been a much more exciting story, had somebody assisted with the editing.
Ivan
In 1952 Patricia Highsmith composed this personal and revelatory classic. Harper & Bros, publisher of Highsmith's "Strangers on a Train," refused to issue this novel due to its controversial subject matter. The powers that be convinced Highmsith that publishing under her own name would adversely impact her career the way Gore Vidal's had initially been by "The City and the Pillar." The Naiad Press out of Tallahassee, Florida published this volume under the pseudonym Claire Morgan. Ironically ...more
Lydia
I had a very hard time getting into this book. Although I applaud it for its historical significance as one of the first novels to portray a lesbian relationship with a happy ending, I had huge issues with it. I found the writing distant and disjointed, violent feelings constantly washed over Therese for no apparant reason, and the relationship between her and Carol seemed very controlling and unhealthy to me. I wanted to root for them, I really did, but in the end I couldn't help but feel that ...more
Megan
this book is masterful! why have i ignored patricia highsmith all my life? in this novel highsmith (who published it first under a pseudonym) is terrific at communicating the protagonist's youth and burgeoning emotional maturity. gorgeous prose. yes, can see where nabokov plucked inspiration from this for lolita. and the lady lovers don't die! though there is a gun!
thanks leeyanne for handing this one off to me. i loved reading it in the time of year (christmas and january) in which most of the
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Mariana
I'M SO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Barbara
I found “The Price of Salt” to be difficult to read. It’s a short novel; it’s a slow reading one with little action and not much dialogue. Patricia Highsmith’s novel is touted as being ground breaking for it’s time (early 1950’s). She portrays a lesbian love story in which the characters “don’t see the light and go straight”; also the characters don’t die a tragic death that was justice because they are gay. I will admit that I would not have finished this novel if it hadn’t been a book club pic ...more
Mel
Carol and Therese, two of the least interesting characters to grace the pages of a book in a while , and to think I had such high hopes for the both of you. Flat conversations combined with martinis and large doses of self regret sums up these two. I get it was the 1950s and this was a "racy" and "taboo" topic but the characters were one dimensional. I didn't really care about them that much. The story did get much better as it went on. (view spoiler) ...more
rachel
I am fascinated by ugly women. Not physically ugly, but cold, heartless, practical, mean, nasty women, women who don't fit the mold of the demure, polite, submitting woman that we are "supposed" to be. Given Otto Penzler's description of Patricia Highsmith as an "unloveable, unloving person," I knew I had to read something of hers. The Price of Salt interested me, with its scandalous subject matter for its time and its parallels to Lolita, so I figured I'd give it a try.

I liked it a lot on the s
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Sean Meriwether
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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More about Patricia Highsmith...
The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1) Strangers on a Train Ripley's Game (Ripley, #3) Ripley Under Ground (Ripley, #2) The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley's Game

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“I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.” 1152 likes
“But there was not a moment when she did not see Carol in her mind, and all she saw, she seemed to see through Carol. That evening, the dark flat streets of New York, the tomorrow of work, the milk bottle dropped and broken in her sink, became unimportant. She flung herself on her bed and drew a line with a pencil on a piece of paper. And another line, carefully, and another. A world was born around her, like a bright forest with a million shimmering leaves.” 34 likes
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