The Price of Salt

Patricia Highsmith | Fiction, 1952

292 pages

three-hearts

Therese Belivet is a young woman, attempting to begin her career on or off Broadway as an apprentice set designer.  But for now, she is working the Christmas holidays in the toy department of the large department store, Frankenberg’s, when she meets Carol Aird, a slightly older woman seeking to buy a doll for her daughter.

The Price of Salt presents Therese’s story of her discovery of love, sensuality, and sexuality.  The joy of this book is in its publication date.  Surprisingly well-received, 1952 was a ground-breaking time to write about lesbian love.  Patricia Highsmith, writing then as Claire Morgan, does foray into this as-yet-unfictionalized world.  The tale may not resonate quite as much in 2021, as it is sexually tame and dated, but it is powerful and bold in its original publication period as well as today.  And therefore, quite fascinating to read.

The circumstances of this book might appeal to you or not.  Some say it is a lesbian cult classic (reminiscent, to me, of Thelma and Louise).  The Price of Salt is a book the mother and son duo read in The End of Your Life Book Club and so I must credit Will Schwalbe with inspiring me.  I truly enjoyed this novel.

November 2021

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