We have met Patricia Highsmith as a writer of mystery books, ones that keep the reader hooked to the book till the very end. This is one of her main characteristics, as whatever she is up to, she fulfills to the very end with professionalism and totally devoted to it. Having that said, let’s get to the story!
It is the early 1950s. A young woman, lives in New York City, in a very small apartment one she can afford with her job at a department store. Her profession, stage designer, cannot yet pay the bills, as she has not found a real job yet, but she is working on maquettes to display at job interviews. She is having an affair with Richard, a painter, not a very promising one.
One day near Christmas, at the doll department that she is working at the store, arrives a very dynamic blond woman that captivates her eyes at first sight. She is elegant and classy in her mink. She is looking for a doll for her daughter and
Therese, the young woman, finds the right one!
They fell in love instantly and they travel across the states followed by a private investigator, hired by Carol’s husband, soon to be ex-husband. The two women set their path and get to know their feelings along the way.
Full of emotions and agony on how it will progress, how the relationship will progress, the book is not only a projection of homosexual relationships back in the 1950s, but also a true picture of the America back in the days. People do not feel free to express themselves. Something like that would be very embarrassing, as those are degenerated people that would influence others surrounding them. This prejudice may still exist in conservative North America.
Highsmith had just published “Strangers on a train” and sold the rights to Hitchcock, a book that had marked her as a suspense novel writer. The publishers were eager for more mystery novels. Now with “The price of salt” she thought that she would be marked as a lesbian novel writer. Furthermore, her publisher was not willing to publish this book. This ended up to changing publisher, something that Highsmith hated, and publishing this book under the pseudonym “Claire Morgan”. Despite the many taboos, the book was very successful when it went on paperback and Highsmith was receiving many letters from people with concerns similar to the book’s.
“Carol” the other title that the book was published later on, was made into a movie in 2015 by acclaimed filmmaker Todd Haynes. Carol’s character is impersonated by Cate Blanchett and Therese’s character is impersonated by Rooney Mara.
To have a taste, check out the film’s official page.