Carol by Patricia Highsmith

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Before it was an Oscar nominated film starring Cate Blanchett, Carol was a highly regarded novel originally titled “The Price of Salt”. Written in 1959 by Patricia Highsmith, part of Carol’s reputation comes from being one of the first lesbian novels with a happy ending (SPOILER ALERT: no one dies/goes crazy/ends up in a relationship with a man in the end! Hurrah!)

Set in New York during the 50’s, Carol tells the story of the relationship between a young woman named Therese Belivet and Carol Aird, a beautiful, older married woman. After a chance meeting in a department store on Christmas Eve where Therese is working for the holidays, the two women soon form a close bond that develops into a passionate love affair. The relationship is complicated by Carol’s estranged husband and young daughter, and Therese’s boyfriend who can’t fathom his girlfriend falling for another woman.
Carol is a beautiful love story beautifully told. It is a remarkably frank novel written at a time when homosexuality was invisible and forbidden, particularly among the burgeoning middle class of America in the 1950’s. At the book’s heart is the story of two women who pay a high price for facing society’s moral judgements and attempting to build a future together. Repressed longing and desire is illustrated with such complexity and intimacy that it is impossible to hope for anything other than a happy ending for Carol and Therese.

A highly recommended read.

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You can reserve a copy here on South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

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