Anna Luce's Reviews > Carol

Carol by Claire  Morgan
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 4-favourites, 3-loved-it, favourite-romances, favourite-friendships, my-feelings, favourite-relationships, to-re-read, re-reads, own, physical-copies-i-own, favourite-protagonists, favourite-characters
Read 2 times. Last read December 23, 2020 to December 27, 2020.

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4 ½ stars

“My Angel,” Carol said. “Flung out of space.”


Fans of the film adaptation of Carol may find the novel to be not quite as polished or romantic. I, for one, find the novel’s elusiveness and opaqueness to be entrancing. Unlike other books by Highsmith Carol is not a thriller or a crime novel, however, it has plenty of moments of unease (dare I say even of ugliness?) that brought to mind The Talented Mr. Ripley. Therese is a somewhat disaffected young woman who wants to become a theatre set designer but in the meanwhile she works in the toy section of a department store in New York. She observes the world and people around her with a mixture of apathy and ambivalence, the only feelings she experiences seem negative (her repulsion towards her coworkers, her disinterest towards her beau, her dread at the idea of being stuck at the department store ).

“Had all her life been nothing but a dream, and was this real? It was the terror of this hopelessness that made her want to shed the dress and flee before it was too late, before the chains fell around her and locked.”


Estranged from her mother Therese longs for her boyfriend’s family more than the man himself. And then she sees Carol: “Their eyes met at the same instant, Therese glancing up from a box she was opening, and the woman just turning her head so she looked directly at Therese. She was tall and fair, her long figure graceful in the loose fur coat that she held open with a hand on her waist. Her eyes were gray, colorless, yet dominant as light or fire, and caught by them, Therese could not look away.”
Therese's infatuation is immediate, and the two women—in spite of their age gap, their differences in background and circumstances—begin to spend more and more time together. Highsmith's captures the intensity of first love, as Therese’s thoughts become increasingly preoccupied by Carol. There is a lot of longing in this novel and Highsmith expresses it beautifully, rendering the nuances of Therese’s uncertainty, jealousy, and yearning. Therese’s naïveté and Carol’s rocky marriage create friction between the two women, but the attraction and affection they feel for each other is palpable. Even if Carol remains a bit of a cypher, I too like Therese found myself drawn to her.
Some may find Therese’s narration to be too dry or cold, but I have always felt the most for characters such as her. I appreciated how Therese reflects upon the smallest of things, and there are times where she entertains rather cruel or disquieting. Nevertheless, I found her to be a sympathetic and interesting character, and I certainly admired her determination to follow her own heart.
The languid pace and alluring language make this into an unforgettable slow burner. I love the dreamlike quality of the narrative, the chemistry between Therese and Carol, the nostalgic atmosphere, the realistic rhythms of the dialogue, the winter setting...I don't know what more to say other than this novel just does it for me.
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Reading Progress

July 12, 2017 – Started Reading
July 12, 2017 – Shelved
July 13, 2017 –
page 120
34.88%
July 16, 2017 – Shelved as: 4-favourites
July 16, 2017 – Shelved as: 3-loved-it
July 16, 2017 – Shelved as: favourite-romances
July 16, 2017 – Shelved as: favourite-friendships
July 16, 2017 – Shelved as: my-feelings
July 16, 2017 – Finished Reading
February 27, 2019 – Shelved as: favourite-relationships
June 19, 2020 – Shelved as: to-re-read
December 23, 2020 – Started Reading
December 23, 2020 –
15.0%
December 24, 2020 –
30.0%
December 24, 2020 –
50.0%
December 27, 2020 – Finished Reading
December 28, 2020 – Shelved as: re-reads
January 3, 2021 – Shelved as: own
January 3, 2021 – Shelved as: physical-copies-i-own
January 3, 2021 – Shelved as: favourite-protagonists
January 3, 2021 – Shelved as: favourite-characters

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Karley Whitwham I love your review! Carol is one of my favourite books ever.


Anna Luce Karley wrote: "I love your review! Carol is one of my favourite books ever."

Thanks Karley :)


message 3: by Margaret (new)

Margaret So good to see your review of this book! My copy of it is so old, it is titled The Price of Salt, and the author is Claire Morgan. Highsmith (and her agent) felt she could not risk the success of her other more mainstream books by associating her name with lesbian romance. So she printed it using the Claire Morgan pen name in 1952. The book was then reissued in 1984 by Naiad Press, still with the Claire Morgan pen name. (My copy is Naiad Press.) It wasn't until several years later that she put her own name on the book. The Carol title only came about after the movie in 2015. The story may feel a bit dated, but I still think it holds up.


Anna Luce Margaret wrote: "So good to see your review of this book! My copy of it is so old, it is titled The Price of Salt, and the author is Claire Morgan. Highsmith (and her agent) felt she could not risk the success of h..."

More than dated I would describe it as very reflective of its time :)
My copy of this book was published in 1993 (bought second hand) and it is titled Carol so I wonder who/why the title was changed. The original title (The Price of Salt) had a nice ring to it!
I do wish that Highsmith had written more books under the Claire Morgan nom de plum.


message 5: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Anna Luce wrote: "Margaret wrote: "So good to see your review of this book! My copy of it is so old, it is titled The Price of Salt, and the author is Claire Morgan. Highsmith (and her agent) felt she could not risk..."

I am surprised to hear a copy printed in 1993 was titled Carol. Very interesting.

After I sent my comment, I came across (via Twitter) a January 9, 2021 Guardian article entitled "Twisted Brilliance: Patricia Highsmith at 100." I'm including the title in case my link gets cutoff and becomes inoperative.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/202...

Thought you might appreciate seeing it.


Anna Luce Margaret wrote: "Anna Luce wrote: "Margaret wrote: "So good to see your review of this book! My copy of it is so old, it is titled The Price of Salt, and the author is Claire Morgan. Highsmith (and her agent) felt ..."

Thank you! I will definitely give it a read :D


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