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on August 2, 1997
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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on August 30, 2004
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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on December 12, 2000
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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on May 7, 2011
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 reason why she's not with him is because he needs to fix "the situation".

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 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 in this novel is jut over the top.

A great book, though, and worth reading if you're a fan of twisted characters.
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on June 19, 2001
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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on April 19, 2016
Highsmith fits the bits and pieces of an obsession into place by taking us into the mind of a man who refuses to acknowledge that the woman he loves does not love him. He builds a life founded on the fantasy that she will leave her husband and join him in the house he bought and furnished to her supposed taste. A close reading of the text reveals past events that led to the break-up of the youthful romance, but David can justify his hesitation then and his determination now to be forceful. The supporting characters are as complex as the protagonist,and all in all this is one of several stories that claim the reader's full attention. Highsmith's writing is ueven, but when a plot is well developed it is utterly spellbinding.
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on July 10, 2011
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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VINE VOICEon September 5, 2009
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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on April 13, 2013
If you like Highsmith, then you will like this as well. Not my favorite, as it seemed to take a bit to get going. I couldn't get why the husband let his wife do what she did to him. However, when it started rolling, it got better. I laid it down at first, went to something else. I rarely do that, but, went back and finished and it was worth it. My favorite of hers is Cry Of The Owl.
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on February 23, 2013
We get to witness the slow decent into madness of David as he pretends that Annabelle is his wife. He becomes less and less able to function in daily life. Patricia has such a knack for getting her readers inside of her characters. It's almost as though I know the characters as neighbors or acquaintances. I'm looking forward to reading The Talented Mr. Ripley.....
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