The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

About the Book

A chance encounter between two lonely women leads to a passionate romance in this lesbian cult classic. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover.

Author Patricia Highsmith is best known for her psychological thrillers Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, The Price of Salt was heralded as “the novel of a love society forbids.” Highsmith’s sensitive treatment of fully realized characters who defy stereotypes about homosexuality marks a departure from previous lesbian pulp fiction. Erotic, eloquent, and suspenseful, this story offers an honest look at the necessity of being true to one’s nature. The book is also the basis of the acclaimed 2015 film Carol, starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

The Invention of Wings Discussion Questions

The following discussion questions for “The Invention of Wings” were created by our member Jenny. We freely share our original discussion questions, but please consider including a credit and link to our website.

  1. Talk about some of the things in “The Invention of Wings” that inspired the title of the book.  Which character comes to mind first when you think of the title?
  2. We'd all like to think we'd be strong and brave when faced with adversity. Were you surprised at Charlotte's fearlessness and risky behavior considering the harsh and sometimes deadly punishment if she got caught?  (Sneaking out, selling goods without permission, faking slave passes, etc.) Do you think you would do the same under such circumstances?
  3. Why do you think Sarah gave Hetty back to her mother? Do you think that was the right thing to do? Do you think she should have kept her so she could someday set her free? Do you think Sarah regretted it?
  4. Sarah and Angelina Grimke were pioneers in the fight for, not only abolition, but also for women's rights. Compared to the 1830's, do you think we've come a long way in the fight for women's rights? Or do you think we have a long way to go for equality? Compare the struggles female activists had to deal with back then with those of today.
  5. Did you know anything about the Grimke sisters and their role in abolitionism and women's right before reading this book? What about Denmark Vessey? Do you think Denmark was a positive role model?
  6. What were some of the symbols used throughout the book and what were their significance to the story? (The fleur de lis button, the story quilt, the rabbit head cane, spirit tree)
  7. Sarah was crushed when her father told her she could not study to become a lawyer because she was female. Do you think she gave up too easily? Were you surprised she didn't fight for it given her love of learning and books?
  8. Were you surprised when Sarah declined Isreal's proposal? Do you think she could have been happy had she accepted?
  9. When Sarah became Nina's godmother, and basically her sole caretaker, how did this change Sarah's and Nina's relationship with their mother? Did you think it was odd for a girl so young to become godmother/caretaker?
  10. Talk about the male characters and they're significance in the story. Who did you think was the strongest male character and what made him so?

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Creative Commons License

The Invention of Wings discussion questions are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Chez Panisse Almond Torte


  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 7 oz./200g soft almond paste
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. almond extract
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Beat sugar and almond paste until the almond paste is in fine pieces. Beat in butter and vanilla. Cream mixture until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition so the eggs are thoroughly mixed in.
  3. Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat in just until thoroughly blended.
  4. Turn batter into pan, smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 1 to 1¼ hours or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the center feels springy when you push it gently.
  5. Let cool for about 20 minutes before releasing the sides of the springform pan.

Serves 8-10.

Source: Alexandra’s Kitchen website