141 of 146 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 1999
I was introduced to Therese and Carol, the two protaganists in Highsmith's lesbian romance The Price of Salt, my Sophomore year of college in a Gay and Lesbian Lit. Class. The professor told the class she had picked the book becuase it was well written and it presented an interesting twist to a gay love story, no one dies or goes straight at the end(imagine that). This alone is not neccesarily compelling enough to get someone to read Salt, after all, today's gay and lesbian love stories often end in positive and fulfilled ways. But for Highsmith's Salt, written in the 1950s, this was a stretch. The reader will enjoy the subtleness of the prose and the indepth look at the confusion and chaos that can occur when two women come together and realize their mutual attraction and then love for each other. In addition, the novel is a dynamic look at 1950s America as the characters adventure out of New York and off into the Great American Wide Open. I encourage gay and straight readers to venture forth with Therese and Carol. Salt allows a beautiful look into the world of finding one's soul mate and falling in love. Becuase, above all, Highsmith has written a love story, not just a lesbian work of fiction.
70 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2005
The Price of Salt changed my life. I used to drive an ice cream truck in Long Beach CA and would stop by the pier at a used book store to search the racks of pulp fiction for anything that had a modicum of same sex content.
21 years old, knowing that I wanted to meet others of my kind, and the only literature I knew was Well of Lonliness, prison studies and pulp that either had the butch lesbian dying tragically or reformming into a femme.
Among the bunch of poorly writen pulp I bought, was a gem written by Claire Morgan. No one dies and they end with the possibility of a long term relationship. It was the first sense of hope that I had as a young lesbian in the sixties. It saved my life.
To anyone who is interested in GLB studies, this is a must read as it is a the first historical book with a positive ending.
65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 1999
I discovered this book, and my own sexuality, in the late "50's." Through the years it has been the one title and story that I have always remembered. Now, I've a new copy and reading it again has brought back all the memories of the first time I read it. A beautiful story with a beautiful ending... I only wish Highsmith had writen a sequel with Carol and Therese.
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
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, "The Price of Salt" became one of this author's best sellers. All that seems so long ago - another lifetime. Indeed, it's hard to conceive of Michael Cunningham or Tony Kushner having to contend with such issues. So, now that all of the controversy has abated we can judge this novel on it's own merits, and the verdict is a happy one. "The Price of Salt" is one of Highsmith's best efforts. This novel works on a number of levels. It is both a "coming out" story and a "love" story, with a bit of the author's trademark suspense thrown in for good measure. The story has an emotional honesty and autobigraphical sensibility; qaulities that are noticeably absent from much of her other work. I found myself pulling for Carol and Therese, and found the development of their relationship to be natural and true to life. The "happy ending" is achieved in an uncompromising fashion that doesn't feel false or contrived. I am reminded of a Stephen Sondheim lyric: "wishes come true, not free." These characters paid a price for their happiness - it wasn't free.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2000
Controversial when released, this book is a classic which I read over and over. Therese and Claire live in my heart and I think of them often. Set in N.Y., I love the descriptions of life in the Big Apple during the 50's. Although the book starts off a bit slow, it's worth the wait as things start to roll along nicely. If you relate to the tug-o-war between the draws of marriage, and knowning it's just not right for you, you'll find Therese to be your new hero as she follows her dreams.
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2002
Although this book was first published in the early 1950's the majority of issues that both Therese and Carol confront are still applicable today. Sure, times have changed and we all want to believe that within the past five decades we, as a society, have become more enlightened about homosexuality but unfortunately there is still more room for improvement.
"The Price of Salt" is a moving story about the developing love between Therese and Carol that heightens during a road trip through America. What I was impressed with most was how the author paid little attention to the love scenes and rather focused on the emotions and desires that they shared with each other. Let's face it, most lesbian love scenes in books are less than fulfilling or satisfying and frequently are better left off the manuscript entirely. Also, there was no mention of the word "lesbian" throughout the entire book which is probably accountable to the time period it was written but nonetheless notable and admirable.
Overall, this book is a good read and I would recommend it to others.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2012
Be aware that the edition with the photo of two women on the cover, published by Createspace, is probably a pirated version. It claims the copyright was never renewed, but it wouldn't need to be as Highsmith only died in 1995. And W.W. Norton still sells the paperback. The formatting of this one is awful, with lines broken and dialogue running together. This edition isn't worth the cheaper price.
That said, this is an excellent story. 4 stars for the story, 2 for the production of the book.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2000
I picked up the British edition of The Price of Salt (it's titled 'Carol' over here) purely on the strength of Patricia Highsmith's reputation; I hadn't bothered to read the back cover to see that was a (gasp!) story of lesbians. Having purchased the book I decided to read it despite my ambivalence to the subject matter. Well, I feel delighted to have read such a compact, moving story of human emotion. The Price of Salt, while greatly different from her other works, is perhaps Patricia Highsmith's best achievement. It certainly is her most personal and emotional.
The Price of Salt is a story of a young woman, Therese, who is captivated at first sight by Carol, an older married woman. Not having realised any lesbian feelings before, Therese is completely stunned by this sudden rush of emotion. Happily, both women do 'connect' and develop a relationship. Unhappily, Carol exacts a very heavy personal price (..no spoilers here) for pursuing this lesbian relationship. While the unhappy (ie, due to homophobia) element of The Price of Salt is perhaps somewhat unlikely to happen today (the book was written in the early 1950s), one can only feel compassion for Carol and Therese.
Highsmith stresses the emotional elements of the relationship, not the sexual elements. So if filmed The Price of Salt would be rated PG. This should make the book appealing to a wider (straight and/or male) audience. It could serve as an excellent primer on homosexual relationships for parents/friends of gays who "don't quite get it". However young gays, especially lesbians, might find the lack of sexual references to be off-putting. That is, it might make the book seem watered-down or unrealistic (remember the film 'Philidelphia' where we only see gay men kissing?). But one must remember if Highsmith had chosen to make The Price of Salt a bit racier the book would not have been published.
Bottom line: kudos to Ms. Highsmith. And gentlemen, give this book a chance .. ok?
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2005
Therese works as a shopgirl in a large department store as it prepares fro the Christmas rush. But it's only a temporary job as she wants to become a set designer, with the help of contacts provided by her boyfriend Richard. She's content but life with Richard isn't quite what she's looking for. In fact, she's not sure what she needs until Carol, a handsome older woman, walks into her department to buy a doll for her daughter. Therese manages to strike up a conversation with Carol and soon, they begin to see quite a bit of each other. Their friendship changes while on a cross country trip and soon Therease and Carol must battle to keep their romance going despite the possible threat of Carol's husband and threats to keep her away from her daughter.
This is a thought-provoking novel about coming out and trying to maintain a relationship that runs askew of societal norms. Highsmith expertly tells the story from Therese's point of view, voicing her fears, opinions, thoughts so that as a reader, I felt as if I were taking part in the story. It's also good at giving the reader a glimpse into how homosexuality was treated during the 1950's. What I enjoyed most about this novel, though, is that the characters do not have the tragic ending common to gay/lesbian characters at the time; they have the possibility of continuing the relationship. A refreshing change to novels of the time.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2002
I can't stress how elegant and moving the writing is in this book. I've read it three times now, and each time I think that it doesn't even matter what the plot is, her fluid and unique style would carry any story. It also helps that I can identify with this plot on so many levels, especially the intensity of Therese's feelings for Carol. This book is like the best bottle of wine you've ever had, you just want it to keep flowing and not to ever end.