3.92 (24,109 ratings by Goodreads)
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The book tells the story of Therese Belivet, a stage designer trapped in a department-store day job, whose salvation arrives one day in the form of Carol Aird, an alluring suburban housewife in the throes of a divorce. They fall in love and set out across the United more

Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 15mm | 197g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • 0140149066
  • 9780140149067

Review Text

Patricia Highsmith (who died in 1995) was best known as a psychological-thriller writer and still has a huge following. Carol (first published in America in 1952 under the title The Price of Salt) is completely different. It's a love story between the sophisticated Carol of the new title and Therese, a 19-year-old aspiring stage-set designer. Ambitious but short of cash, Therese takes a pre-Christmas job in the toy department of a New York department store. While the Christmas rush is at its height Carol comes into the store to buy a doll for her young daughter and Therese helps her choose one. Therese is young for her age, a little naive and totally unprepared for the shock of seeing Carol - and her own reaction. There are several boys of her own age in her social background, more than one of whom would like her friendship with them to develop into something warmer, but she can feel nothing for any of them but vague liking. The reader, always a little ahead of Therese, will be quicker than she was to realize why; as is Carol, who is more aware of her own sexual orientation. Their growing awareness of their feelings for each other is wary on both sides. Carol knows that not only is her (never very satisfactory) marriage at stake, but also her relationship with her daughter. Therese is at first merely confused: lesbianism was much less openly talked about in the 1940s and '50s than it is now, which is probably why Patricia Highsmith first used a pseudonym, and why the novel was not published in Great Britain until 1990. Based on Highsmith's own experiences, it must have been a brave book when it was first published, although it is written sensitively and without explicit sex. The writing in the early stages is laidback, almost colourless and staccato, but the mood changes to one of joyous and eloquent lyricism as the love affair burgeons. Not just for Highsmith fans (though they will find it fascinating) but for everyone. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

24,109 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 32% (7,615)
4 39% (9,325)
3 22% (5,370)
2 6% (1,394)
1 2% (405)
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