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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange story of sexual obsession and deteriorating sanity
David Kelsey is a scientist whose unrequited love for a woman named Annabelle has not diminished over time, even though she has gone on to marry another man and give birth to a baby. Highsmith's protagonist--like most Highsmith protagonists--has a sense of perverse righteousness and a profound freight of guilt that he carries everywhere. The dreariness of the...
Published on August 2, 1997

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When You Don't Take No for an Answer
What's interesting about this book is the insight it offers into the mind of people who don't take no for answer when it comes to love. David Kelsey is determined to get Annabelle back because she belongs to him. The only why she's not with him now is because he needs to fix "the siatuation".

What I liked most about this book is that I wouldn't say he's a...
Published on May 7, 2011 by Daniel Gamboa


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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A strange story of sexual obsession and deteriorating sanity, August 2, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
David Kelsey is a scientist whose unrequited love for a woman named Annabelle has not diminished over time, even though she has gone on to marry another man and give birth to a baby. Highsmith's protagonist--like most Highsmith protagonists--has a sense of perverse righteousness and a profound freight of guilt that he carries everywhere. The dreariness of the setting--largely a rooming house in a sad little upstate New York town--creates a nice counterpoint for this tale of consuming love and delusion. The final pages of the book, which take David into full-scale psychosis, are truly stark and believable. This, we feel, must be what it's like to be insane. And the last line of the book is, well, a killer
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars when too much love is BAD thing..., December 12, 2000
By 
lazza (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) - See all my reviews
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
This Sweet Sickness is a short yet accomplished work by Patricia Highsmith which chronicles the life of a young man obsessed with a former (and now married) girlfriend. He is completely delusional in thinking their relationship lives on, and his mental state degrades rapidly with rather disturbing (and violent) consequences. As usual, Patricia Highsmith unveils the 'sickness' of her main character very slowly. This allows the reader to really judge matters from the main character's perspective, regardless of his/her mental state.
The only negative aspect with This Sweet Sickness is how the police force are viewed, in general, as incompetent in solving a murder (..I won't say who is killed, nor divulge whom the killer is). Other Highsmith novels portray the police as cold yet extremely capable. This mistreatment of the police force almost turned me off from This Sweet Sickness completely. However all is forgiven with the novel's ending, which is truly beyond belief (let's just say the main character's mental state is completely shattered). It is perhaps one of the most memorable endings to any novel I have read.
So This Sweet Sickness is a worthy read overall.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, June 19, 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
This is an quite interesting story about a man's desperate love for a girl that is out of his reach. It also contains some psychological aspects which give an even more thrilling touch to the novel. Patricia Highsmith perfects the art of transporting the reader into a dangerous, double-edged world of crime and lies. It's absolutely worth reading.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent novel, August 30, 2004
By 
Kenneth Hand (Pickering, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
Earlier a reviewer wrote that Highsmith "hated men." This is entirely untrue: If you read her biography by Wilson, which includes excerpts and information from her diary, you will see that in fact she was a huge fan of the male sex and considered males superior in many respects to females. Many of the female characters in her books were problems for her to develop (one example from her diary is Heloise in the Ripley books) because she didn't feel she could identify with them. Very few of her protagonists, consequently, are female.

This Sweet Sickness exhibits first and foremost Highsmith's ability to deal with human emotion and the depth of the human psyche in her literature. The protagonist's desperation throughout the novel is obvious to the reader, although it does not actually fully surface until he starts to slip in the final chapter, and this exemplifies Highsmith's style. The police chase through Central Park is one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever read, and the climax that follows is successfully and powerfully tragic.

This Sweet Sickness is a terrific novel that follows the usual Highsmith "formula" but with a unique, and heartbreaking ending. A recommended read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sickly Sweet, September 5, 2009
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
Patricia Highsmith was a gifted novelist who could make the most unlikeable characters come to life and, moreover, make the reader root for her unsavory creations. Tom Ripley, her model of the amoral hero, is definitely the pinnacle of all of Highsmith's characters, but the flavor of what made the Ripley novels so ingenious is missing from "This Sweet Sickness". While David Kelsey, the main character in this novel, shares some characteristics with Highsmith's usual narrators, his focus is obsessively short-sighted and drawn out far too long.

David Kelsey, a gifted scientist stuck in a menial job, is obsessed by the girl who got away - Annabelle. When David took his out of state job to make money to marry the girl of his dreams, the girl of his dreams married another man. But this doesn't stop David from pursuing her. He buys a house in a nearby town, decorating it with items he knows Annabelle will like, and living a double life within his mind on these weekends he spends at his house. For while David is a model citizen to those who share the boarding house he lives in, few are aware of the lies David has told and his increasingly stalker-like behavior of the married Annabelle. When David's letters and phone calls only serve to outrage Annabelle's husband, David finds the idyllic false life he has built up for himself take a murderous turn. Yet he cannot give up the life he has created for the one that is real, no matter how much further into trouble he plunges.

"The Sweet Sickness" is an enjoyable read, but it can be a bit wearisome at times and is perhaps more dated than other Highsmith works. It also seems that the story is overly long, at least by one hundred pages, and maybe would've functioned better as a short story. As it is, events seem repetitive and the reader will find himself wishing that David would come back to reality already. A unique concept but not executed quite as well as other Highsmith novels which have stood the test of time.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, but much like others by Highsmith., July 15, 2005
By 
Hans Castorp (Devon, Pa United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
If you like the Ripley series, this one is very similar, though the oddball chemical engineer obsessed in an unrequited affair is not nearly as sick as Ripley, and in fact may not really be a criminal at all, except for his posing under a fictitious name, another Ripley trait. Set in late 1950's Hudson Valley, NY, with short scenes in Hartford and LaJolla,Ca., one is still amazed at the incredible deviousness which this author specialized in. Also, the slow deterioration of a near genius, very successful young engineer absolutely obsessed by his ex girlfriend, who politely rejects him, but who won't give up his obsessive pursuit. Well worth reading, though maybe not Highsmith at her absolute pathological best.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars When You Don't Take No for an Answer, May 7, 2011
By 
Daniel Gamboa (Valencia, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
What's interesting about this book is the insight it offers into the mind of people who don't take no for answer when it comes to love. David Kelsey is determined to get Annabelle back because she belongs to him. The only why she's not with him now is because he needs to fix "the siatuation".

What I liked most about this book is that I wouldn't say he's a criminal. He has a goal and everything else he just can't see it. Whatever he does wrong is, somehow, by accident and that made me sympathyze for him during the entire book. However, I understand that this book was written in the 50's and the police back then wasn't as sharp as they are now, but their incompetence is jut over the top.

A great book, though, and worth reading if you're a fan of twisted characters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Optimism Turned Bad, July 10, 2011
By 
J. Smallridge (Kansas City, MO USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
This book left me with a feeling of sadness unlike many of Highsmith's other books. A gripping read, it traces David's optimistic belief that everything will eventually turn out for the best. He tries to win over "the love of his life" despite her marriage to another man and he does so with drastic consequences.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How sweet it is, March 8, 2004
By 
"vortex87" (Picnic Point, NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
This is without question Patricia Highsmith's finest novel. A tale of difficult love (apparently a running theme in Highsmith's work, whether negative -- as here -- or positive -- as in SMALL G: A SUMMER IDYLL) and declining sanity, and overall, as Graham Greene put it, apprehension. We wait for things to happen and oh, how we are rewarded.
So, the setup is: David Kelsey, a young (late-twenties) chemist who lives in a boarding-house in Froudsburg, NY, is desperately in love with Annabelle, who loved him once but has now married Gerald, who David sees as a boor unworthy of her. He anticipates her leaving Gerald and living with him -- so much so he's bought a house in a neighboring town, fully furnished it, even including pictures of her; it waits while he continues to call her and send her letters -- which enrages Gerald, who finds out about the other house and goes to it while David's there in order to kill (or at least harm) him. David kills him, instead -- by accident, and kind of in self defence, though -- and informs the police in the other town under the name he bought the house by: William Neumeister. His friends -- and Annabelle -- don't know about Neumeister, the police don't know of David's life as himself in Froudsburg, and so he has to try to keep them both in the dark of either "person." And everything starts sliding downhill from there.
The tension is superbly built as the novel progresses, after the start creates a very palpable air of uneasiness in establishing The Situation (what David calls Annabelle's being married). And while, as others pointed out, the police are fairly incompetent here, it doesn't entirely detract from the novel -- although it may bother you with its lack of logic when you read it. But it's soon lost as the novel continues. What makes it so good is that rather than dealing with mere criminal tendencies, we find ourselves plunged with David headlong into the world of insanity -- which you don't usually in a Highsmith novel, at least not in the sense here; if the murdering is in Highsmith's other books is a form of insanity, it at least seems connected to reality. But here . . . The last 30 or so pages must be perhaps the most stunning portrayal of insanity ever written. (Of course, I may be wrong there, but it's still amazing as it stands.) It all leads to an incredible ending.
So the last quarter of the book or so is worth the price of the entire book alone.
Read it NOW.
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4.0 out of 5 stars How love can make people sick...., June 15, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: This Sweet Sickness (Paperback)
The book This Sweet Sickness plays in the United States and is about David Kelsey, a young scientist who is obsessed with Annabelle, a married woman with whom he once had a short relationship.
His life is split up in two parts, during the weeks David lives in a boarding house. Every weekend he pretends to go visiting his ill mother but instead of that he goes to his house which he has bought under another name, William Neumeister. At his house he imagines a life with Annabelle.
During the book, David always tries to win Annabelle over. He writes to her hoping to persuade her to meet him and phones her very obstinately. He refuses to believe that she loves her husband Gerald and not him. One day, Gerald has enough of David's calls and letters. He gets drunk and comes to see David at his house. There they have a quarrel and unfortunately Gerald dies. David begins to lead a double-life for to confuse the police. His life becomes very complicate but he succeeds for a long time that the police don't realize that David Kelsey and William Neumeister are the same person. Only when there is a second death caused by David, the police come to the right conclusion. During the whole story, David doesn't resign trying to win over Annabelle...
It's really interesting to read this book and to feel with a common man who is obsessed with a woman he will never be able to reach...
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This Sweet Sickness
This Sweet Sickness by Patricia Highsmith (Paperback - October 17, 2002)
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