by Patricia Highsmith writing as Claire Morgan
The Naiad Press 1993 edition of THE PRICE OF SALT is worth reading just for the postscript by author Patricia Highsmith. The book was first published in 1951 under the pseudonym Claire Morgan.
In the postscript, Highsmith give us a rare insight into the seed that an author can grow into a marvelous novel. She was working during the Christmas rush in 1948 in the doll section of a New York department store when she was attracted to a sophisticated, elegantly-dressed female shopper. THE PRICE OF SALT was spun from that moment.
The book describes how Therese, the department store temp was drawn into a love affair with that chic woman, Carol. The difficulties of being lesbian lovers in 1940s America in an era when most men were appalled at the concept are filtered into the story. Carol comes out on the wrong side of a divorce as a result of her relationship with Therese. And, Therese discovers her own sexual preferences and an explanation of why she hasn’t been drawn to feel anything more than friendship for the men who are attracted to her.
Highsmith, who used a pen name on THE PRICE OF SALT to avoid being categorized as a lesbian writer, can be placed in a box labeled ‘crime novelist’ for good reason. Her first novel was STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, which Alfred Hitchcock made into the notable film of the same name. Another of the readily-recognized films made from her work is THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY.
Obviously, Highsmith met a deep-seated need among readers with THE PRICE OF SALT since the 1952 paperback version of the book sold almost a million copies.