The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Highsmith is the author of the Tom Ripley novels and also Strangers on a Train. This novel, published in 1952, is about a young woman working in a Manhattan department store who falls in love with a customer, an older woman who is rich and beautiful and going through a divorce. The two women start spending time together and eventually go on a very long road trip. They finally confess their feelings and begin an affair. But the older woman’s divorce interferes with their relationship.

The novel is suspenseful, especially since it isn’t clear whether they will have an affair or not. It isn’t clear until the final pages how the story will end. I became bored with the main character — the story is told from her perspective. She seemed less interesting, even annoying, as the novel progressed. But this portrayal of a relatively happy lesbian relationship was considered groundbreaking in the 1950s.  (2/28/11)

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