The Price of Salt

“And because she was tired, she tensed herself to hold back that spasm, that sudden seizure that was like falling, that came every night long before sleep, yet heralded sleep. It did not come. So after what she thought was fifteen minutes, Therese dressed herself and went silently out the door. It was easy, after all, simply to open the door and escape. It was easy, she thought, because she was not really escaping at all.”

chpt 1, pg 26

When I was in college I had to read Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley and discovered that I liked her writing very much. I put the remaining of her books, The Price of Salt included, on my TBR list. However, that list is so long that I never got around to her work while I was being consumed by Woolf and the Brontës. But when I found out that a movie was in the works based on this book, I ran to the bookstore. I hate reading books after their movie versions have come out. Anyone else the same way?

 The Price of Salt is classic Highsmith. The writing is mysterious and dangerous. You get consumed by the story that is being told. A lot like how Therese gets consumed with Carol.

When Therese first meets Carol, we see the switch go off. We see Therese become so consumed by her obsession with Carol she practically stalks her. And as someone who suffers from second hand embarrassment, some of those moments were quite difficult to read. And I will be honest with you, I never for one second assumed Carol returned those feelings. Call it my brain being filtered through Tom Ripley’s emotions for Dickie, but I was reluctant to believe that this was a story about love.

Of course, that initial assumption quickly changed as the novel progressed and the love between Therese and Carol began to develop. We learn about the lives of these two women and the real destruction that will be caused by their love. And you can’t get enough of it.

However, despite all that, there was something I found a little offputting about the book. After a while it got a little…boring. I think the boredom started around the time Carol and Therese decide to go on their road trip. Which is ironic, considering this is supposed to be the part where it gets intense – they’re running from a detective! But I truly struggled to push through and keep reading. And frankly, when I watched the movie months later, this is the part when my eyes started to get a little drowsy.

Once I did push through though, it was all worth it. With an ending that was completely unpredictable – especially when you take into consideration the trends in lesbian romance novels – it made the fact that this story could have been written in 100 less pages totally worth it. I guess that was the point? Through pushing back the upcoming doom, it caused the suspense (or in this case boredom) to build up resulting in a climatic and shocking ending.

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