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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2003
This Sweet Sickness is a classic Highsmith book. I've read all of her novels, and this one has always held the place of my personal favourite, even though it is less well known than the Ripley novels, or Strangers on a Train.
David Kelsey is a typical Highsmith protagonist: self-obsessed, arrogant and opinionated, with a good income and a comfortable middle-class lifestyle. He has become infatuated with his former fiancee Annabelle to the extent where it dominates all his thoughts. He has become convinced that it is only a matter of time before he persuades her to come and live with him and resume the life they briefly had together - in fact the reverse is the case.
At weekends he has established an alter ago, William Neumeister, who is the perfect partner of his adoring wife - except it is all pretend! As the events in the book unfold (without spoiling it by going into the details) Kelsey is forced to retreat into his Neumeister persona more and more as life as his real self becomes increasingly unbearable.
A tense psychological thriller, This Sweet Sickness unveils an obsessive personality whose mad world becomes increasingly chaotic as it increasingly deviates from reality and ultimately impinges in a fatal way on the lives of others around it.
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on 19 May 2013
The protagonist is so obsessed with a married woman named Annabelle that he buys a house in the country and secretly goes there on the weekends and pretends she lives there with him, filling it with things he thinks she's like, including clothes, setting the table for two -- a total nut! Fascinating and wonderful as we see his obsession dangerously growing. Dark, psychological, deliciously disturbing.
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on 15 July 2014
I started reading Highsmith's books after reading 'carol'. This is a fast paced story that keeps the reader gripped. I like the older fashioned style of writing and it was a book I couldn't put down. I wish there were more books as good as this! Thoroughly recommend it
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on 3 November 2009
Chilling look at the mind of a man who cannot accept the reality of his situation. Other characters are equally interesting and in some cases just as deluded. While the main protaganist David, is not a sympathetic man, Highsmith's fast pace means the reader never feels claustrophobic or smothered by having him as the reader's point of view throughout the book. More a psychological thriller than an action piece, this has a similar feel to the later Ruth Rendell novel 'Going Wrong'.
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on 1 April 2015
Quite a good story and as usual when read about one of Patricia Highsmiths unpleasant main characters I felt initially on his side but as I read further I just wanted to s tell him to pull himself together! Even though parts of the book seemed a little far fetched and dated,in present day there are deluded characters like Dave around and people with his mental state do exist.
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on 23 September 2015
This Sweet Sickness reads like a Predecessor to Mr Ripley. Marvellous authorship. As flawed a character as you can get.
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on 7 July 2009
This story, on paper, has all the ingredients needed to make a powerful novel. There is an obsessive unrequited love, two murders and a suicide. However, because I found it difficult to engage with David Kelsey I found myself frustratingly unmoved by his story.

I'm afraid that my expectation of being swept along on a powerful emotional journey was somewhat disappointed. Like Highsmith's now more famous work The Talented Mr.Ripley however, this is a story about a character who appears casually unthreatening but who is in fact highly dangerous. Unlike The Talented Mr Ripley, our central character has little charm to recommend him. David Kelsey is a detached loner who rejects the friendship or affection of anyone who comes into his orbit, save the love of his life Annabelle. While Ripley may have been cruel in the extreme, he had a surface charm which mesmerised and intrigued. Kelsey on the other hand is cruel on the surface and downright treacherous underneath. Because one views Kelsey with the same detachment that he views the world I'm afraid that I found it very difficult to engage with him.
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on 7 December 2015
Not my liking expected it burst in to life but no
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on 11 September 2014
patricia highsmith never dissapoints
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 9 September 2009
David Kelsey lives in a rooming house during the week, in the town where he works as a scientific researcher, but at the weekends he goes to his own house a few towns along the interstate, where he has the best furnishings and fine silver and plate. He plays house, imaging that the girl he had marked out for marriage, Annabelle, is with him. But Annabelle married someone else, Gerald Delaney, a man David despises. David, who seems addicted to secrecy and privacy, for perhaps psychological reasons, tells the owner of the rooming house and the other inmates that he visits his ageing mother at the weekends, but in fact David's mother is dead.

Something of a fantasist, David, has bought his house under an assumed name. At the same time he writes letters to Annabelle, very few of which she replies to, but he tells himself that Gerald has forbidden her to reply. Slowly he builds up a picture of the world as he would prefer to see it, and not as it really is.

This is a convoluted and quite engrossing thriller, but the main problem is the lack of sympathy one is able to feel for David, from whose perspective we view all of the action. In the denouement David neatly solves his problems with a solution that the reader is likely to be cheering on. Disappointingly, this book is not up to Highsmith's usual psychologically penetrating level, with a plot that has some unlikely developments.
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