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This Sweet Sickness

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  2,012 ratings  ·  260 reviews
In This Sweet Sickness, Patricia Highsmith, in her own inimitable fashion, has created a complex psychological tale as suspenseful as The Talented Mr. Ripley.

David Kelsey, a young scientist, has an unyielding conviction that life will turn out all right for him; he just has to fix the Situation: he is in love with a married woman. Obsessed with Annabelle and the life he ha
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton Company (first published December 18th 1960)
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  2,012 ratings  ·  260 reviews

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Jul 02, 2019 rated it liked it
"This Sweet Sickness" is a very satisfactory novel from Patricia Highsmith that explores the dark side of attraction and desire. Highsmith excellently portrays how fixations can become very unhealthy, especially when they involve a love interest in someone who doesn't feel the same way in return. Such fixations can develop into delusions if they go unregulated, which is very apparent in the characters of David and Effie, who eventually engage in extreme and illicit behaviour to secure the possib ...more
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Teresa by: BrokenTune
This novel is a slow burn. It builds at a needed pace (yet so slowly that at the halfway mark I started to wonder if I should continue) until with only a quarter left, it flares. Then it’s too late, there’s absolutely nothing you can do to put it out.

In the beginning you might even relate to one or two of David’s obsessions. (Or am I giving away too much about myself?) But as David's thoughts turn to actions, and his delusions are revealed, so is his dangerous insanity. This is all told from his
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed

In the dead of night, more snow began to fall, like billions of white, silent tears.

This Sweet Sickness was my 13th book by Patricia Highsmith and you would have thought that by now I would know what to expect and would be able to foresee certain themes or twists. The thing is, I can’t.

One of the very aspects that keeps me reading her books is that I have yet to find a story that follows a formula, or even one that I have encountered in other books of the same era. Sure, some later books may
Nancy Oakes
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
oh god. What a great book. For a little more about this book, you can go here to my reading journal; otherwise, continue.

This Sweet Sickness is Highsmith's seventh book and somewhere around page 90 I had to put it down for a day because of the knots forming in my gut. Somehow I just knew that this story was going to end very badly and well, I wasn't wrong. This book unnerved me to the max and reaffirmed my belief that it is dangerous indeed to stay in this woman's brain (or that of her main cha
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the perfect first book for any year. Gripping. Quirky. Chilling. Sinister. I do love it when Patricia Highsmith writes about her 'psychopathic-heroes' and David is one of her finest. It's uncomfortable and odd, just like him. I thought it was really great. I love how she slowly draws you in and then forcefully grabs you and won't let go. ...more
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Patricia Highsmith’s This Sweet Sickness is creepy, very creepy. It’s neither mystery nor thriller nor horror, but still so very creepy. Reading this, I felt as if I were in a nightmare, watching a huge tractor trailer truck hurtling down a very long hill with broken brakes: I knew that David Kelsey, William Neumeister, and The Situation were going to crash, but I didn’t know when, where, how, or what the damage would be.

This Sweet Sickness provides unexpected and unintended enjoyment f
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a joyride this book is, menacing and creepy. An in depth look into the mechanics of a twisted sick mind. David Kelsey is a strange character that really gets under your skin. He has no concept of reality but also seems so bleeting normal at first glance. How does Patricia Highsmith do this? Clever clever writing that reels you in like a fish hook. A chilling look at what happens when a man's house of lies comes crashing down and the ramifications of living a double life. He just keeps getti ...more
Oct 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I sort of identify with the main character. You have a crush on a girl. For fun you imagine your life with her. Maybe getting an apartment together. The thing is you don't know her at all - but still a daydream. Nothing wrong with that right?

And this is where Patricia Highsmith comes in and makes it really creepy and weird. She has a genius to get under one's psychie skin and make it sound really reasonable. A totally unique visionary writer who is very truthful regarding the moment when you ar
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a slow-burn psychological drama that hooked me in and shook me!

It delves exclusively into the psyche of our protagonist David...and that does not make for comfortable reading. His growing obsession with his ex-girlfriend Annabelle is explored alongside his work / family relationships matters.

If you are looking for action and plot twists then this is not going to do it for you; but if you like looking into the minds of deeply flawed characters and watching an evitab
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'If something was damaged, it might be repaired.'

I love a classic schizo-thriller, they are hilarious, and this was unbelievably page-turnery. And it works because of that little bass-note of hope which Highsmith keeps giving us, like maybe everything will be ok? Obvs, you know it won't, but that suspension of the inevitable is glorious and awful and right at the end just whacks you in the heart.
Aug 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio, overdrive
This was not one of my favorite Highsmith books. David is obsessed with Annabelle who is married to Gerald. He tries to woo her with letters and Annabelle has a very passive aggressive way of dealing with him. Gerald naturally objects to David's persistent attentions. Although it was obvious something bad had to happen (it's Highsmith after all), it took a long time to get to that point. Thereafter, the book is all about the lies David tells to everyone he knows. Since different lies were told t ...more
Highsmith is very adept at depicting the pathological mind, and she does an especially remarkable job here with David Kelsey, convinced that eventaully Annabelle will come to her senses and realize he's her one true love--the fact that she's married and expecting a child is just The Situation that needs to be dealt with. Kelsey's delusion of self and others is disturbingly convincing, though his gradual (one might argue inevitable) break with reality carries us perhaps to a somewhat melodramatic ...more
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm sure we all at least once in our younger days had the experience of utter incredulity that the current object of our devotion shouldn't feel the same way about us: it was a mistake in the script, surely, that could be easily corrected if only everyone concerned would see sense.

That's the way young chemical engineer David Kelsey feels about Annabelle Delaney. She once told him she loved him, and on the strength of this he moved away from home to get a boring but lucrative job in a plastics co
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
David Kelsey is a man with a secret.

During the week, he lives in a cheap boarding house, works a tedious job, and fends off romantic overtures from a young woman named Effie. On weekends, he escapes to his country house, where he listens to classical music, drinks fine wine, and fantasizes about his future life with his fiancée, Annabelle.

The only problem: Annabelle is married to somebody else…

On the surface, This Sweet Sickness (1960) is a story of obsessive love, with the increasingly desperat
Carla Remy
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Re-reading one of my favorite books by my favorite authors. This was my second time, and I didn't love it quite as much as I did a decade ago. My one complaint is that it's too long (typical of me). But altogether still brilliant. About unrequited love and fantasy, it is told from the perspective of the one in the throes of these plagues, skewing the reader's view and expectations as he is shown as more and more insane. ...more
Amy Gentry
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Among my favorite of Highsmith's novels, and definitely the most depraved. You just want to take a shower after being forced to sympathize and identify with a deluded stalker for a couple hundred pages. Nobody gets misogyny like Highsmith, probably because she hated men and women equally and could therefore inhabit the POV of a misogynist with natural ease. Only snails get off scot-free in Highsmith's world. ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
"It was jealousy that kept David from sleeping, drove him from a tousled bed out of the dark and silent boardinghouse to walk the streets.

He had so long lived with his jealousy, however, that the usual images and words, with their direct and obvious impact on the heart, no longer came to the surface of his mind. It was now just the Situation. The Situation was the way it was and had been for nearly two years. No use bothering with the details. The Situation was like a rock, say a five-pound rock
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
I really liked this book and read it with the same horrified fascination I would have for a rattler headed right for my left leg. Super.
Feb 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remove the word "sweet" from the title. David is a psycho bowerbird trying to attract his flighty mate, Annabelle. David's many blunders get him in deep water. I don't know how he dodged the slammer or the nuthouse in the first half of the book.

Too many sickening details about David's delusions and too much whimpering, yet I kept reading. Highsmith makes it easy to read past your breaking point -- crisp sentences, short chapters, and a curious stench.

I feel a little like David: I'm in love with
Γιώργος Μανι
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Highsmith at what she knows best, writing a both realistic and deeply disturbing story. Having read the first installments of the Ripliad, it was clear that the main character was really an early version of Mr Ripley, so if you enjoyed any book of the Mr Ripley Series, be sure to read This Sweet Sickness too.
This was not my favorite Highsmith. David Kelsey is one sick man with possibly a split personality or a fixation or a deep psychosis due to having lost his mother at a young age. He harbors a hopeless love for Annabelle who is married to another man.

As always, Patricia Highsmith builds for the reader the profile of a disturbed individual until the reader cannot look away or even put the book down, so I give her that. At first I thought David was merely a quirky guy and I marveled at the subtle
Mar 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, 2017-reads
Fanfriggingtastic!! No one but Highsmith can put my stomach in such knots!! This was SO good, I can't believe they never made a movie out it. When all I want to do is ignore life and read, you know it's a good story!! ...more
I got this book as a gift from friend, when I helped her move back in 2016. She had an impressive collection of old books, with her new home not having space for most of the books, so she needed to get away with so many of them as possible.

This turned out to be a very different read than I expected. The particular copy of I got described "This Sweet Sickness" as a "man with a split personality" thriller on the back cover, so I expected a take-off on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde premise perhaps bu
Dec 17, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: nobody
I haven't shelved this under "mystery" here b/c there was no mystery about it. The main character was doomed from the beginning & the painfulness of reading this was that it was so obvious. I knew that by reading it I'd just witness the increasing madness, the increasing sadness. DON'T READ THIS IF YOU'RE FEELING LONELY! Don't read this if you're feeling hopeless! It'll only make it worse (probably). I certainly feel worse from having read it. STILL, it was well-written. These days, I suppose, t ...more
Jon Ureña
Aug 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
David Kelsey is a solitary man who dislikes most people and is unable to connect with them. He spends his free time daydreaming about building the perfect life with a girl he used to date, who is now married to someone else. This obsession makes life worth living for him. So far, relatable guy. Unfortunately for him and the people around him, he is also a hothead who intends to push his former girlfriend into fitting his idea of her.

The story is very competently written. You are in David's head
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: five-star-rated
Highsmith manages to create protagonists who are despicable, yet fascinating, and this potent mix certainly isn't lost in this novel. Rather than the exotic locales of the Ripley novels, this story takes place in the rather drab suburbs of upstate New York but it's an appropriate backdrop to the dullness that our main character sees in just about everything, except for the romanticized life he has created for himself and his beloved Annabelle. The setting also serves as the only really stable th ...more
Mignon DeLarre
Jump Fool!!!!

I like the way Highsmith's writing and it was the only thing that kept me reading. The story itself did not interest me whatsoever. The characters were all unlikable and in fact I had no interest in whether they died or not. So in closing don't read this book. If this was the first book of hers I'd read i wouldn't read anymore
Aug 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading This Sweet Sickness is like listening to Ravel's Bolero. The book starts slowly - David Kelsey, a seemingly descent guy, has a Situation. He is in love with a married woman who isn't in love with him. We notice David's social awkwardness, his mild obsession. But he is also a brilliant scientist, a respected lodger at his boarding house; he is kind to the old woman who is room-bound on the top floor of the boarding house. There are the weekends he spends in a nearby town living an obsesse ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, 2009
well, compulsive reading is the key -- i read it all day and didn't stop until the end. her characters often have this fascinating control freakiness about them, and david kelsey is no different. he didn't seem as intelligent as tom ripley, though kelsey is a scientist, and that's usually equated in my mind with mental dexterity but i think that's because he's not as good as projecting what could happen and the steps that he needs to take to prevent it. but then again, ripley is a seasoned and f ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah Miss Highsmith, you never wrote a book I didn't love (well...except 'Ripley Under Water' but that was on me not you). This is no exception. I love the way Patricia Highsmith can take a minor, everyday scenario such as a man in love with a woman he cannot have, and turn it into something so insidious. She is the master of turning good people bad, at finding the evils that lurk deep down below in our psyches. In short I loved every single minute of this book, a must, must, must read for those w ...more
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Pulp Fiction: Patricia Highsmith's "This Sweet Sickness" 3 17 Sep 08, 2019 02:32AM  

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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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