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The Price of Salt

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  37,123 ratings  ·  3,296 reviews
A chance encounter between two lonely women leads to a passionate romance in this lesbian cult classic. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to ...more
Kindle Edition, 260 pages
Published January 5th 2015 by Dover Publications (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)

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3.96  · 
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 ·  37,123 ratings  ·  3,296 reviews

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Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok. I have Feelings about this book. And there might be some spoilery things, but no more than I was spoiled before reading 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
Glenn Sumi
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2019
A foreboding and atmospheric tale about love between women, The Price of Salt sensitively portrays an aspiring set designer’s coming to terms with her sexuality. Set against the backdrop of postwar repression, the story follows nineteen-year-old Therese Belivet as she abandons her quiet life as a shopgirl for a budding romance with an older, married lover, Carol Aird. The bulk of the novel’s drama arises from Carol’s fraught attempt to divorce her affluent husband, retain custody of her daughter ...more
Mar 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, favorites
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
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 18, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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

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.
Apr 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition


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
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Dec 15, 2015 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
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Oct 17, 2015 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
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Patricia Highsmith lives in an ugly world. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, is almost unbearably bleak. Ripley is...well, it’s a lot of things, but mainly it’s the first time someone wrote an entire series of books asking you to identify with a serial killer. But between them all, and under a fake name, she also wrote this beautiful, aching jewel of a love story. Who knew?


Not the public, not for thirty years. Astonishingly, Highsmith didn’t take credit for The Price of Salt until
Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell

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THE PRICE OF SALT is an important book in the LGBT+ literary canon because it was one of the few exceptions in the sea of lesbian pulp fiction published during the 50s and 60s where neither of the heroines ended up married off, dead, or institutionalized. No matter how dull or lackluster it seems today, one can only imagine how many feathers were ruffled - especially since many of these authors were explicitly told that in order to avoid ce
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

This was my first Patricia Highsmith book, and I know it won't be my last. Although Highsmith is more known for her suspense writing, Carol is a different style of book altogether. It is part love story, part road novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed the reading experience.

It follows Therese, a young girl working in a department store during the Christmas rush, who one day is enamoured by a customer who comes into her department. Carol is beautiful, in her 30s with a young daughter, and is
Jan 01, 2016 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
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 24, 2011 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
I picked up this book for Read Harder 2017 read an LGBT romance novel. OK, so romance books are not my genre of choice. In fact they are my least favorite category of books. But this novel billed as a lesbian romance is neither and both at the same time. It is the opposite of this (which in my understanding is the standard of LGBT romance genre): plot cliches

It's more a novel about people growing up, learning to love, and choosing to live their life on their terms. This is probably one of the more empowerin
“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
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vaso by: Georgia
If I hadn’t read this book, no one could convince me that Patricia Highsmith wrote it. It is so out of her theme. It is placed back in the 1950’s, and is telling the story of 2 women falling in love with each other. The writing is smooth and simple, mostly revealing the romantic side of this relationship and how these women and the community in general are dealing with it.
I liked this book. I didn't find any of the characters particularly likeable, but they were relatable.
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Highsmith is like a drink of ice cold water - cleansing, refreshing, and invigorating. I noticed the same thing when I read The Talented Mr. Ripley. Her prose is so spare, so clear. It keeps me focused and skipping along the page. I love it.

Published in 1952, this story was originally written under the pseudonym "Claire Morgan" because of the controversial content - the love story between two women, Therese Beliveau and the older, beautiful and mysterious Carol Aird. It's not terribly su
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
Loved this! I think from today's standpoint and because this is a rather quiet, yet very suspenseful book, I feel like it is easy to overlook how truly revolutionary this novel was at the time it was first published. While the main character Therese seems insecure about a lot of things, she is always sure of her love for Carol. She never questions if it is okay to be in love with a woman. The backlash she meets is always part of an outer, never truly part of an inner conflict. Of course, Highsmi ...more
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 obsess ...more
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Read Women: The Price of Salt, Patricia Highsmith 3 29 Aug 02, 2018 12:26PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Please Add Page Count (344) for Carol 2 14 May 11, 2018 07:24PM  
Around the Year i...: The Price of Salt, by Patricia Highsmith 2 37 Dec 05, 2017 07:22AM  

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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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“I feel I stand in a desert with my hands outstretched, and you are raining down upon me.” 1342 likes
“Do people always fall in love with things they can't have?'

'Always,' Carol said, smiling, too.”
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