​Queer Literature

For once, I’m not exactly sure how I came across this author, probably while scrawling through the deep recesses of Goodreads, but a quick search left me completely in awe of Patricia Highsmith. The American writer is renowned for her psychological thrillers, chief among them Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr Ripley. Her stories have been adapted onto the silver screen, including Alfred Hitchcock.

Known to have been sexually attracted to women, Patricia wrote a number of lesbian novels, however, The Price of Salt was published in 1952 under the pseudonym, Claire Morgan. It was thirty-eight years later when The Price of Salt was republished under Patricia’s name as Carol, which is also the name of the movie based on the book, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

The story revolves around a lonely young woman, Therese Belivet who lives in Manhattan and works as a theatre set designer. Though she has a boyfriend, Richard, Therese is not completely satisfied in her relationship with him, and is not satisfied sexually. It is said the story is inherently based on the author’s own life, who worked in a departmental store much like Therese. The main protagonist, a brunette, chances upon a rather regal customer, with blonde hair that seemed to make her shine and a remarkable coat. While Therese is smitten by her, Carol Aird purchases a toy for her daughter and has Therese to send them across to her house. With Carol’s address in hand, Therese is unable to prevent herself from sending a Christmas card to her and gradually, the two form a deep friendship.

Carol, though quite taken up by Therese, has problems of her own, as she is in the midst of a bitter divorce and is fighting for the custody for her daughter. As Carol and Therese take off for a holiday, a journey where their love and relationship solidifies, Carol realises to her horror that her husband had a private detective wire tap their room. The story depicts the tug of a woman stuck between her love for her daughter and the desire to be with someone she loves.

The book is said to one of the few in lesbian literature of that era to have a ‘happy ending’ and I suppose, while we may say times are different, sometimes it’s quite just the same. It’s sad people can’t choose whom they want to love and have to force themselves to bend to society’s dogmatic notions. The more we read about this, the more it will make our mindsets flexible and enable us to question things we take for granted.

This post is part of the eighth annual A to Z Challenge that takes place in the month of April. The theme for this month is ‘Between Pages’. It’s my second attempt at this. Feedback is most welcome, constructive criticism, even more. Share your experiences and let’s enjoy this month of fabulous blogging.

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