Gift Guide
Customer Reviews for

The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 1
  • Posted February 14, 2012

    High-Functioning Highsmith

    Many published reviews, including the one in "Kirkus Review," allude to a friend of Highsmith who characterized her as a "high-functioning Asperger's" sufferer. If one sifts through the multi-colored sands of Schenkar's exhaustive, and sometimes convoluted biography, a picture of a profoundly narcissistic personality eventually reveals itself. All those extra colors: her homosexuality, anti-semitism, anorexic tendencies, willful disregards for authority, others feelings, and filial obligations, tend to confuse a reader at first. In sum, though, this was a terribly unpleasant woman endowed with a gift for writing terribly unpleasant, yet entertaining work. Schenkar's writing can be frustratingly tangential, and tends to take flight right when something particularly nasty has arisen, i.e., an allusion to anti-semitism explodes immediately into a history of comic books. Looking at the photos is like seeing the picture of Dorian Gray out of the attic. Highsmith becomes the vision of her self-abnegation and dark outlook: lovely to hideous.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2010

    A Remarkable Study of a Highly Talented Author by a Remarkably Talented Researcher.

    Patricia Highsmith was an unusual woman and one of our best suspense novelists ever. Unfortunatley this American author was long better recognized and acclaimed in Europe than in her native United States, but happily a resurgance of interest in Highsmith seems underway, helped in part by this in-depth study of a true American "original". While her works that have been translated into highly successful films (Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train" and a more recent film version of "The Talented Mr. Riply") have helped to fuel something of a cult following, many of her works reflect her Lesbian lifestyle, which for years were therefore considered somewhat taboo among many otherwise would-be readers. This is unfortunate in that Ms. Highsmith was a highly creative writer and a master at crafting hard-to-put-down novels.

    Researcher Joan Sechenker has brilliantly captured Highsmith in all her complexity, aided by a large body of notes and cahiers which she left behind.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Highsmith Country

    An extraordinary biography of a very strange person. Organized thematically, it ranges over Patricia Highsmith's life without being slavish to chronology. In fact, the author thoughtfully provides a chronological summary to help those who feel a bit lost.

    Every one of the pages of this long book (over 560 pages with appended material) is worth the time. This is not a literary biography in the strict sense, but it explains a good deal about the odd place in the imagination Schenkar calls "Highsmith country" and helps us begin to understand how the odd people we meet in her books got that way.

    There is a great deal of detail about Highsmith's loves, her mixed relationship with her mother, her frugality, her bigotry, and her inability to tolerate ease or comfort in her life. All of this is attested by the material in her "cahiers" as Highsmith called her notebooks. Sometimes Schenkar seems to drift too far from the evidence in her conclusions, but the ideas she presents are entertaining, if speculative.

    Schenkar has no illusions about her subject's questionable hold on humanity, but she makes us feel some sympathy for this intriguing woman.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
Page 1 of 1