Therese Belivet, nineteen years old and engaged to a man she barely tolerates, falls for Carol Aird, a forty-year old with a soon-to-be ex-husband (Harge) and a daughter, Nerinda (or “Rindy,” as she's called). Therese and Carol embark on a love affair that's tumultuous, heart-true and exciting, despite the outrage and disapproval their love inspires in those around them – remember, this book reflects its milieu, the staid, paranoid 1950s.
This is a blast-read, lighter than Strangers on a Train (her first novel) and the later Ripley novels. There is, of course, moments of creeped-out darkness and serious themes, but the gentle force of Carol's and Therese's interactions more than makes up for them.
Highsmith published this novel under the nom de plume Claire Morgan, and it went on to sell incredibly well. Even now, it's considered one of the best-selling lesbian novels of all time, and I read somewhere (I can't remember where) that this inspired Vladimir Nabokov to write Lolita.
Wonderful, romantic, classy read from one of my favorite writers.
The resulting film, Carol, is scheduled for stateside release in 2015. Todd Haynes is set to direct the film from a screenplay by Phyllis Nagy.
Sarah Paulson plays Abby Gerhard. Rooney Mara plays Therese Belivet. Cate Blanchett plays Carol Aird.
Cory Michael Smith plays Tommy. Kyle Chandler plays Harge Aird. Carrie Brownstein plays Genevieve Cantrell.