So with all of this Academy Awards buzz and #OscarsSoWhite buzz and everyone talking about media representation, it's fitting that my book club choice for February is The Price of Salt: the novel, later retitled Carol, that's the basis for Carol the movie, which is up for some awards.
I'm not usually so timely and relevant!
But The Price of Salt is definitely timely and relevant, which is weird considering that it's a positive lesbian romance published in 1953. How often do we say that someone is just a product of their time? That things were different back then? And look at this.
That being said, The Price of Salt was the result of author Patricia Highsmith's experience with psychotherapy as an attempt to learn to enjoy sex with her fiance after years of sexual relationships primarily with women. So maybe what needs to be applauded is not Highsmith's compassion for the plight of other people, but her bravery for choosing to write and publish something, especially something so personal, that would no doubt garner her scandal and negative prestige. (Of course, it was originally published under a pseudonym, no doubt for that reason.)
I had never read any Highsmith before, so her reputation as an author of suspense and thriller novels is unknown to me. (Yes, I haven't even seen Strangers on a Train.) The Price of Salt is a horse of an entirely different color: personal drama, maybe even bordering on the melodrama. But the language is light, precise, and airy; a stark contrast to the complex and meandering prose of January's Mrs. Dalloway. It's a snappy read that is coming along fairly quickly for me.
If you're like me, and missed Gay Fiction 101 in life, this is probably a great place to start. And you know that I'm all about reading the book and watching the movie. After you finish, you can consider Sir Ian McKellen's thoughts on the Oscars and diversity.