Books »Deep Water

by Patricia Highsmith (1957)

Patricia Highsmith‘s Deep Water is a slow simmering thriller. It’s a claustrophobic look inside the very strange and cruel marriage between Vic and Melinda. Living in separate quarters, theirs is a loveless but weirdly co-dependent relationship based on the odd, not quite unspoken arrangement that Melinda can take as many lovers as she pleases.

Teetering between loathing and dedication to his wife, whose affairs are viciously paraded in front of him (often in his own living room), Vic loses himself in his unusual interests, like book printing, poetry, entomology… and eventually murder!

Not since George and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? has there been a fictional couple so messed up yet willfully entangled in their daily chaos.

Though it’s not written first person, the book is definitely from the point of view of Vic, which makes the reader feel like, if not a cheerleader for him, then at least a confident. It’s not hard to be on the side of Vic, despite his crimes, as his wife is so outwardly awful.

By the end, you feel that uncomfortable queasiness you get when you’ve seen far too much of someones personal life and find it repulsive… but at the same time, you can’t resist hearing more and more details.

I have been meaning to read a book by Patricia Highsmith of Talented Mr. Ripley fame for some time and this certainly won’t be the last.


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Posted on June 16, 2011

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