Simplicity is bliss.
My favourite love stories are the ones that feature the word “embrace.” Most contemporary love stories I read tend to focus on sex, fading to black, and kissing until lips are chapped and numb. I love older love stories, classics if I may, because these stories focus on the embrace, on bodies pressed chest-to-chest, and kisses that overpower the world. All too often, this world is one that is set against them and their love. Love isn’t a magical fix-all. In The Price of Salt, love does not fix all of their problems because love is actually what causes them. But love, the novel argues, is worth fighting for. Love transforms, love grows, but like the atom, it can never be destroyed.
The Price of Salt, also known as Carol is a lesbian love story from 1952 that was, for many years, referred to as the only lesbian love story with a happy ending. Crazy, isn’t it? But I have to admit, well-written lesbian love stories, especially those with happy endings, are still hard to find today. While Carol might not be a literary masterpiece, it is an important piece of literature, and a rather lovely one at that.
Carol is a slow burn. It doesn’t jump into the romance; rather, it lets the love slowly build, teasing the reader (and Therese). I’d personally rather read a slow romance than one that jumps right into it, so I was quite pleased with how the story is able to build in a way that never feels tedious or painful (although I do like romances like that too). While the novel promises a happy ending, it isn’t all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. There is quite a bit of angst, prejudice, and hate, as one would expect from a love story written and told prior to the gay rights movement. These conflicts only draw attention to the strength of the love between Carol and Therese, and remind the reader that love is genderless. We don’t get to choose who we fall in love with, but we do get to choose if it’s worth the effort, a lesson Therese eventually learns through her relationship with Carol.
The Price of Salt isn’t an extravagant love story; rather, it takes a delicate, basic route. But that is far from a bad thing. The Price of Salt is like buttered toast, simple yet delicious in its own right. It’s comforting, and warming, and goodness, I love it.
The world needs more stories like The Price of Salt.
4 Christmas Dolls out of 5.
[note: I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I think I will write a post comparing the two when I do. Stay tuned!!]