The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith is best known as the author of the bestselling Tom Ripley series, which has inspired several movies.

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The Cry of the Owl by Patricia Highsmith


Features

  • Paperback: 271 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.74 x 8.26 x 5.56
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; Reissue edition (November 1989)
  • ISBN: 0871132907


    Reader Reviews
    Didn't really live up to its promise, December 17, 2002 Reviewer: leonie jordan from Sydney, Australia This is the first Patricia Highsmith novel I've read, and all things considered I probably should have started with one of her more popular titles. I did enjoy the book, but thought the action fizzled out a bit about halfway through. It started really well. I liked Robert, I liked the cosy domestic idyll Jenny represented for him, but I got disappointed when they actually got to know each other, and found that the reality of their relationship paled beside his fantasy. I found Nikkie somewhat unbelievable - could someone so theatrically cruel really exist and would someone like Robert ever be blind enough to marry her? Hopefully not. I also thought Greg's transformation from clean-cut, stable, all-American nice guy to a gun-wielding, porn-viewing maniac a little too radical. If Highsmith was trying to invert our assumptions about Robert and Greg and make a point about appearance and reality she should probably have done so with a little more subtlety. I expected the plot to take a completely different arc to what it did - did anyone else latch on to the comment Jenny made towards the beginning of the book about how accusing a man falsely of rape was the worst crime a woman could commit? I thought that this was an indicator of how the story would proceed, and felt a little cheated when it turned out to have no bearing on the plot at all. Having said all that, Highsmith did a wonderful job of creating an atmosphere of tension and nervous expectation, as my completely eroded cuticles will testify. It's a book that has an almost physiological effect on you - you actually experience what the characters feel, rather than using your imagination to try and simulate the experience. The ending is particularly good in this regard as it gives no closure, but instead allows the sense of despair and horror to continue after the book has been closed. This makes it a rather uncomfortable read I suppose, as most people can do without palpitations, a dry throat, and a sense of mounting panic. It takes an incredibly talented writer to make you want to go through such a disquieting experience again, but I certainly do. I will definitely read another Patricia Highsmith novel, and will hopefully find it even better than this one.

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