"The Price of Salt” has to be one of my favourite books, so when I heard it was to be made into a film, I hoped it would do justice to Patricia Highsmith’s classic, fifties romance. When I first saw “Carol” I was impressed, and remain so, overall. But for some reason, the scriptwriter watered down the main character’s personality to such an extent that it made you wonder what the ‘magnificent’ Carol Aird saw in ‘pretty’ Therese Belivet. In the film, Therese is initially given a pair of forgotten gloves as an excuse to pursue Carol; in the book, she has no reason other than an instinct that she impulsively follows, which I think makes her far more substantial.
Neither is Mrs. Aird as sweet to her young admirer in the book as she is in the film. On paper, she’s erratic, challenging and tetchy, which bewilders Therese. From a distance, the reader can see that in the toxic-to-queers fifties, the older woman is testing her courage, resilience and commitment. Suffice to say, it took tremendous strength to be gay back then, let alone manage an enduring relationship with a same-sex someone. The talented Ms. Highsmith’s life is testament to the difficulties of the time. But I suspect she would raise an eyebrow at the way her two protagonists were air-brushed and made ‘nice’ for film in the 21st century.
I remain in awe of her sparse yet fraught-with-meaning writing style, without seeking to emulate it – she was a ‘one-off.’ Take your time when reading “The Price of Salt” – read it, then read it again. Its full story is not easily discerned, but it’s worth persisting."