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Small g: A Summer Idyll: A Virago Modern Classic

Patricia Highsmith

6 Reviews

Rated 0

Virago Modern Classics, Fiction, Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

Completed just months before Patricia Highsmith's death in 1995, Small g explores the labyrinthine intricacies of passion, sexuality, and jealousy in a charming tale of love misdirected.

'What is most remarkable in this novel is the empathy . . . with which Highsmith writes about gay men . . . one can imagine the small g existing, a piquant mixture of bohemianism and respectability, exactly as Highsmith describes it' Francis King, Spectator

At the 'small g', a Zurich bar known for its not exclusively gay clientele, the lives of a small community are played out one summer.


Rickie Markwalder is a designer whose lover Petey was brutally murdered. Rickie and his performing dog Lulu are regulars at the bar, as are vindictive Renate, a seamstress, and her teenage apprentice Luisa. Into their lives comes Teddie, impressionable and beautiful, and a catalyst for the series of events that will change everything.

Patricia Highsmith's final novel is an intricate exploration of love and sexuality, the depths of spite and the triumph of human kindness. It is a work that, in the tradition of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, shows us how bizarre and unpredictable love can be. Small g, in the words of her biographer Andrew Wilson, is an 'extended fairy tale suggesting that...happiness is precarious and...romance should be embraced.'

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Praise for Small g: A Summer Idyll: A Virago Modern Classic

  • From the first page it is recognizably authentic Highsmith. Perhaps approaching her lesbian novel Carol in tenderness and theme, it has a serenity rarely found in Highsmith's world - Guardian

  • Years of producing tight, energetic thrillers has honed down highsmith's style, and in this book, with its child-like simplicity, is quite wonderfully readable - Mail on Sunday

  • What is most remarkable in this novel is the empathy . . . with which Highsmith writes about gay men . . . one can imagine the small g existing, a piquant mixture of bohemianism and respectability, exactly as Highsmith describes it - Spectator

  • The novel is a delight . . . all the more so for its untypically sunny atmosphere - Daily Telegraph

  • Small g is a welcome addition to Highsmith's published novels, offering readers an insight into a fascinating aspect of Swiss society and an opportunity to explore Highsmith's final concerns and obsessions

  • All the qualities we love about Highsmith's work...are here in abundance...her characters astonish themselves, and us, by discovering love in the very last places they ever expected to find it - O Magazine

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Patricia Highsmith

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved to New York when she was six, where she attended the Julia Richman High School and Barnard College. In her senior year she edited the college magazine, having decided at the age of sixteen to become a writer. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, was made into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. The Talented Mr Ripley, published in 1955, introduced the fascinating anti-hero Tom Ripley, and was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1999 by Anthony Minghella. Graham Greene called Patricia Highsmith 'the poet of apprehension', saying that she 'created a world of her own - a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger' and The Times named her no.1 in their list of the greatest ever crime writers. Patricia Highsmith died in Locarno, Switzerland, in February 1995. Her last novel, Small g: A Summer Idyll, was published posthumously, the same year.

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