December 6, 2014

"Carol In A Thousand Cities" --- More On "Price Of Salt"

Patricia Highsmith
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After being so thrilled by the ending of Price of Salt, I could not help to go back reading it again, mainly the beginning, where I thought it was slow and boring. Oh it must be I who was slow and bored, because this time I found it enchanting and necessary, so necessary that only after we read all those passages could we be prepared properly for the arrival of Carol - "an amalgamation of all qualities Highsmith admired in a woman" (Beautiful Shadow - A Life Of Patricia Highsmith, Andrew Wilson).

Now I feel my previous review on this book is far away from doing justice of this work, even shallow. This is a classic, a masterpiece of romance. And it was said that it is the first literature work that lesbian lovers' do not end up suicide, or whatever destructive/tragic ways, and the only lesbian novel written at such high caliber. It has a "happy ending". Yes, I knew it had happy ending before I read it, but I was still so thrilled when I read last chapter, especially that last paragraph, which possibly the best end of all romance books ever written. This is not because I've read all romance books, simply because I could not imagine anything more satisfying, anything more "right on the target" of the heart of human passion, the passion one holds for another.
And for Gods' sake Highsmith was only 30 year-old when she wrote it!

I quickly gathered some background information about this novel, since I have a biography of hers on my bookshelf. Yes I was right that Highsmith herself was the prototype of character of Therese, also she did have similar experience like Therese does in the book, but of course, she re-constructed story, made Carol an ideal figure, a Godess inspired by a few women from real life.

I could personally identify myself with Highsmith's passion for women, so I could totally share her longing for this ideal woman, and echo her lines: "... It would be Carol, in a thousand cities, a thousand houses, in foreign lands where they would go together, in heaven and in hell..." (I don't want to quote more because this book is also a "semi-mystery".)

And finally (not the least), is there a difference between the love between two women or two men and love between a man and a woman? None! As someone put, the lesbianism in this book should hold no bearing of anyone's enjoyment. Love is love, as simple as that!

The movie "Carol" which is in making will be out next year. How appropriate they name it. And I am delighted to see that two leading actresses look very close to my impression from the book. I cannot wait to see it!


  1. I didn't know anything about Patricia Highsmith's life or how her works are connected to her life, so your post is very interesting.
    I think she is a writer that delves into the human psyche. I believe she is a very versatile writer that knows how to dig into human beings' passions.

    1. Thanks Julia.
      I knew she was lesbian long ago and also I knew she had a troubled mental state too. This is the only romance book and the only book about lesbian love which reflect her own directly. All her others books she wrote about "straight" relationships, however, they are still reflect her own passion, but from men's point of view. i.e., This Sweet Sickness, the main character Kesley is actually based on her own psyche.
      Highsmith in her real life had numerous affairs with women. It was these women who kept inspiring her creativity. She was indeed an extremely talented writer.

    2. Just add this paragraph in my ppost: "what's the difference between the love between two women and love between a man and a woman? None! As someone put, the lesbianism in this book should hold no bearing of anyone's enjoyment. Love is love, as simple as that!"

    3. I agree with you on this too. Sorry I missed these replies for some reason.
      I don' t know if she had a troubled mind to be honest. Anybody who dares to be authentic in our societies is considered "troubled". I don't know. Perhaps she was authentic. The troubled ones in my opinion are those who follow the herd.

    4. Thanks Julia for coming back commenting. No problem at all. She was "troubled" for sure! She actually went to months' therapy trying to be converted into heterosexual, but failed! I also read somewhere that during all her adult life she was constantly undergoing deep emotional turbulence. But all these "troubles" inspired her creativity.

  2. Yun, it’s wonderful that Patricia’s Highsmith’s novel is not only a masterpiece of romance, it’s the first literary work to depict lesbian love with a happy ending. Remarkable that she was only 30 when she wrote it. I love her line about Carol in a thousand cities, and I can easily see how you would personally identify with this book and Highsmith. The book and upcoming movie both sound so interesting. And yes, I totally agree, there is no difference between the love of two women or two men or a man and woman. “Love is love, as simple as that!” Well said!

    1. Perhaps, this is the only book that has happy end out of all her books, as this is the only romance she wrote, and all other works are "murder" related. lol... It is happy ending, and it is breathtakingly beautiful ending.