Saturday 31 July 2010

Badgers Books Bargain: Carol by Patricia Highsmith (Uncorrected Proof)

On to the second bookshop I visited during the past week's bookshop bonanza, Badgers Books in Worthing, West Sussex. This is a great shop, four or five rooms stuffed to the rafters with old books, on shelves and in piles, but not to the extent that the shop felt chaotic. They had a couple of sizable fiction sections, with lots to look at, but being an online dealer also (via AbeBooks, of course), I imagine the best stuff is snapped up via the internet (and in fact I have a feeling I've bought from them online myself...). However, still a really good shop, well worth a look if you're in the area, and I did manage to find something to take away with me:

An uncorrected book proof of Patricia Highsmith's Carol, published in the UK in 1990 by Bloomsbury. Essentially it's a trade paperback advance copy of the hardback, for press and the like, with info missing (page 5, for example, bears the legend "BLURB: Copy to follow"). You can see the cover sports a picture of Highsmith herself, which isn't the cover of the actual book, while the back cover carries info on pub date, price, extent etc. So it's not so much a first edition as an advance edition. Makes a change, eh? And only three quid.

Carol was actually Highsmith's second novel, published under the original title The Price of Salt in 1952, and under the nom de plume Claire Morgan. But it took till 1990 for a UK hardback edition to appear, by which time it'd been retitled. It's the most autobiographical of Highsmith's books, dealing with a lesbian affair between a shop worker and a suburban housewife, although in reality the housewife, though based on a real person, was someone Highsmith was smitten with but never actually had a relationship with (I think...). Should be an interesting read though. Of all the Highsmiths I've read (excluding the Ripley novels, which are in a class of their own), the ones that have struck me most are the least typical – The Cry of the Owl, The Tremor of Forgery – and Carol certainly sounds atypical, at least for Highsmith.

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