Read The Two Faces of January by Patricia Highsmith Online


Three of them are waiting. Rydal Keener is waiting for something exciting to happen in his grubby little Athens hotel. At forty-odd, Chester MacFarland has been waiting much longer, expecting his life of stock manipulation and fraud to catch up with him. And Colette, Chester's wife, is waiting for something altogether different. After a nasty little incident in the hotel,Three of them are waiting. Rydal Keener is waiting for something exciting to happen in his grubby little Athens hotel. At forty-odd, Chester MacFarland has been waiting much longer, expecting his life of stock manipu­lation and fraud to catch up with him. And Colette, Chester's wife, is waiting for something altogether different. After a nasty little incident in the hotel, they all wait together. As the stakes, and the tension, in their three-cornered waiting game mount, they learn that while passports and silence can be bought, other things can cost as much as your life....

Title : The Two Faces of January
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780871132093
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Two Faces of January Reviews

  • Marita
    2019-06-05 04:41

    3.5-stars“Somewhere outside, there was a cat fight. Chester saw two mangy cats fighting on the edge of a roof, clinching in battle, falling over the edge together.”(No spoilers)American Rydal Keener (25), has a chance encounter with two fellow Americans in an hotel in Athens, and due to a spur-of-the-moment action on the part of young Rydal, their fates become linked. A crime had been committed by conman Chester MacFarland (42), and his young wife Colette assisted him. Rydal allows himself to become involved for apparently no other reason than the fact that Chester resembles Rydal’s father, and Colette reminds him of a girl he knew when he was fifteen years old. But is that the real reason for his actions?Soon the die is cast, and Rydal enters into a symbiotic relationship with the MacFarlands. There is no real reason for Rydal to remain with the MacFarlands, so what possessed him to do what he did, and what is his motivation or agenda? Who is Chester MacFarland alias William Chamberlain alias Philip Wedekind alias…? What is his hold on Rydal? Or is it Rydal who has a hold on Chester? Are they friends, allies or deadly enemies? Are they like the cats observed by Chester in the quote at the beginning of this review? Janus is the two-faced Roman God after whom January is said to be named. He looks to the future with one face, and to the past with the other. Janus represents many things, such as beginnings and endings, including the beginning and end of conflict. Rydal is facing his past and is trying to come to terms with it through his relationship with the MacFarlands; Chester is looking to his future back in the United States. What do these men have in common, or are they metaphorically speaking two faces/sides of the same coin?Head of Janus, Vatican museum, Rome (Wikipedia*) Soon several people are ready to cash in on Chester’s need and naivety, and in the process Chester’s paranoia grows and grows. In her inimitable manner Patricia Highsmith adds layer upon layer of intrigue, and ramps up the tension - yes, I confess: part of the way through I peeked at the start of the final chapter. The carefully crafted plot is an unlikely one, but is nonetheless entertaining. Ms Highsmith is a master of the psychological thriller genre and is well known for Strangers on a Train and her 'Ripley' series, some of which were turned into films. This novel is perhaps not quite in the same class, but it is still very good.#####I have had to be circumspect in my choice of quotes in order not to spoil the plot:“‘He looks—Well, he doesn’t look like a crook. He’s an American.’”“Would it be wise or unwise? The unwisdom was plain, the wisdom not, yet Rydal sensed its presence.”“So much the better for my purposes. I use purposes purposely. I am using this man for my own inner purposes. He is helping me to see Papa a little better, maybe to see Papa with less resentment, more humour; I don’t know, but God knows I would like to get rid of resentments.”“Like all stupid people who hate themselves, he’ll strike out against anybody else.”“What bores me is the mundaneness of all this – wrong word, I mean prosaicness (prosaism?) its dreariness and drabness and its predictability.”“Optimism had always won the day for him. A man was no good without optimism, no good at all.”“And each of them, looking at the same thing, had quite different thoughts in his head.”#####*By Loudon dodd - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

  • Maria Clara
    2019-05-31 03:41

    Realmente me ha encantado! Es la primera novela que leo de esta autora y no sabía qué podía encontrarme y, con sinceridad, he disfrutado mucho! Supongo que lo que más me ha gustado es el leer sin tener idea de cómo terminaría todo...

  • Tfitoby
    2019-06-04 22:50

    I feel like reviews of this book are expected to mention a movie and Tom Ripley, so let's get it out of the way, blahblahblahblahblah Viggo Mortenson, blahblahblahblahblah Tom Ripley.Except, this was published after the second Ripley book and in Rydal Keener it feels like Highsmith has written an extension of his early character, almost as if she is playing with ideas for future Ripley adventures in a manner similar to the way Simenon worked with Maigret to help clarify his bigger ideas for his more serious work. Rydal is a twenty five year old American boy in Europe discovering himself after disowning/being disowned by his family. He attaches himself to some other Americans and bad, tension filled shenanigans occur. Sounds familiar right?The other thing is there is a new movie adaptation featuring Viggo Mortenson as the other male character, Chester MacFarland and Chester MacFarland is your perfect post 9-11 American villain, he's The Wolf of Wall Street without Scorsese's misplaced glamourising of his offensive Ponzi scheme con man grandeur. It's no wonder this is the book they chose to adapt from Highsmith's large back catalogue.In between these two men there's a woman, naturally. And I feel you'll be hard pressed to beat Highsmith with the misogynist stick that critics so love to wave around when discussing her. Yes, Colette MacFarland is something of a catalyst for the silliness perpetrated by the men but she's not represented in a negative manner, she's not some cut out of a femme fatale for example, she's a young wife of a man who turns out to be something other than what she thought she was getting.The tension fuelled shenanigans take in some wonderfully evoked exotic sounding places in Greece and France, more than likely written from first hand experience which give the work an extra layer of fascination but don't expect any dramatic insight in to human behaviour here, just turn up and go along for a skilfully written ride thanks to a woman who was a master of her craft who The Sunday Times affectionately (and accurately) calls "a glittering addition to the meagre ranks of people who can make books that you really can't put down."

  • Michael Nutt
    2019-06-19 04:48

    Patricia Highsmith was the finest exponent of the psychological thriller. Her most famous works - 'Strangers on a train' and the Tom Ripley cycle of novels - are some of the most enjoyable reads of my life. And now I must add the recently filmed 'The Two Faces of January', her ninth novel, first published in 1964, as one that I can thoroughly recommend.The rather curious title refers to the connection between the month of January, in which the story unfolds, and the Roman god Janus, in whose honour the Romans named the month. Janus is usually depicted as having two faces, as he looks both to the future and to the past. To the ancient Romans, Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions, and thereby associated with gates, doors, and passageways, as well as endings and time. You can find these themes appearing throughout the novel. The story begins with a passenger ship slipping through the Corinth Canal at night. On board are an American couple - Chester MacFarland and his young wife Colette - taking a vacation in Europe and arriving now in Greece. The opening descriptions are of a passage from one world to another, a transition between countries, but also an image that evokes birth, a new beginning. We soon learn that the man is a shyster on the run from the American authorities, trying to escape his past. They are observed by a slack young American, Rydal Keener, who is struck by Chester's resemblance to his recently deceased father (whose funeral he chose to miss), while Colette reminds Rydal a little of his cousin Agnes, his first, ill-fated love from some ten years ago. Rydal is using an inheritance to fund a couple of years away in Europe writing poetry and avoiding a planned career in law back in the States. He amuses himself by playing games of chance, and starts to include the American couple, so uncannily reminiscent of those people from his past, in his latest scheme even if he is unsure quite what it might be yet.Rydal is a particularly Janus-like character, looking both to the past and to the future. He carries the psychological scars of his relationship with his late father and his cousin Agnes, and this unfinished business in his past keeps drifting into the present and casting a fog over his future. Unwittingly, Chester and Colette drift onto his radar. By chapter three their worlds have collided - or dovetailed, it would be more accurate to say, as Chester and Colette find themselves locked in an unspoken pact with Rydal over an incidental murder.It is typical of Highsmith that these are deeply flawed characters, psychotic anti-heroes whose appearance of normality hides psychopathic personalities and murderous tendencies. As in her 'Talented Mr Ripley', she describes a world of European exoticism, as her characters tour the sun-drenched Mediterranean; the novel was published a year after its American author had permanently relocated to Europe.Highsmith keeps the reader guessing about the games these three con artists might be playing. It is a tale of two Ripley's, as Chester and Rydal manoeuvre warily around each other, with a devious woman thrown into the mix for good measure. Gradually, insidiously, Chester becomes increasingly dependent on Rydal as the trio go on the run to Crete, while taking in a spot of tourism along the way as they travel the island. And all the while Colette seems to be taking a seductive interest in Rydal... You know that things can only go badly for these people, and it is not long before the body count rises and events take on their own crooked logic. Highsmith is always adept at pulling off a surprise, taking the story in an entirely different direction from where you thought it was heading. Like a card sharp flicking an ace from the palm of her hand, she throws in a key scene set in the deserted Temple of Knossos that causes the narrative to lurch into a crazy, unexpected turn, tying the two male characters to each other in a mutually destructive relationship. Rydal now plays a dangerous game with Chester, who finds himself unable to free himself from the deadly grasp the other has on him.This is dark but humorous stuff. You suspend any feelings of disbelief and go along with these miscreants for the ride, which takes us across Europe. Rydal works out his latent hatred and resentment of his father on Chester, who has assumed the role of his substitute father. It is a poisonous relationship reminiscent of that between Guy and Bruno in Highsmith's 'Strangers on a train', except here both parties are as cracked as each other. Who will come out on top? The drink-addled con artist or the hate-filled chancer? And what sort of game is Rydal playing by the time the players get to Paris?Each chapter leaves you eager for the next and every time I picked up the story again I was excited to be reacquainting myself with these rather nasty people. Highsmith conjures a strange yet satisfying ending that tidies up some unfinished business, completing a transition of sorts. I look forward to reading more of her novels someday soon.

  • Maria Thomarey
    2019-06-25 22:49

    Εντυπωσιακή και περίπλοκη ιστορία. Μια κλασική Χαισμιθ

  • Sketchbook
    2019-06-04 23:49

    3d-rate Highsm makes a terrible movie. In fact, milady is vastly overrated. Hitchcock brought her attention w "Strangers on a Train." He altered huge chunks of the novel, which one must do, and then added ingenious Hitchery "moments." In 1961, French director Rene Clement made a sssh! hot & sexy film version of "The Talented Mr Ripley," which was called "Purple Noon." It pushes aside the bloated Minghella paraphrase w the young and gorgeous Alain Delon as Tom Ripley -- not to be missed.I dumped "2 Faces" after reading...argghhh...but was curious to see this film, which is the amateur hour - lousy direction, lousy script, and down-syndrome casting. Do I make myself clear?

  • Camie
    2019-06-20 03:31

    Two con men , young Rydal Keener living on the cheap while looking for adventure and Chester MacFarland a racketeer fleeing the U.S. accompanied by his young beautiful wife, cross paths in Athens and become entangled in an ill fated triangle of crime and romance. This Best Foreign Novel Award(1964) winning book is the early work of Patricia Highsmith who was an acclaimed English mystery and suspense writer most famous for her ( The Talented Mr.) Ripley series . My copy is the reprint ( 2014) which accompanied the movie release by the same name. This was the August read for my senior citizens Bookclub and though not my usual genre I enjoyed it as a nice change of pace.3 stars

  • Lou Robinson
    2019-05-27 05:31

    There's a film of "The Two Faces of January" out this month, starring a favourite of mine, Viggo Mortensen. I'm also getting to the end of the Ripley books that Patricia Highsmith wrote (although I'm trying to ration myself with the last one, as there won't be any more!). So time to try some of her other books.I just love her writing style, it's not overly verbose and and there is always plenty of action and humour. The Two Faces of January is like reading about another Ripley in another city. An enjoyable read and now I can't wait to see it at the cinema.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-05-27 01:54

    Bettie's Books

  • Emma Iadanza
    2019-06-12 02:55

    Last year, when I saw that this movie was going to come out, I thought it would be amazing and I really wanted to see it. Unfortunately, the arthouse film wasn't playing anywhere in my general vicinity. Flash forward to last week, at my library, where I saw the DVD and the book side by side on a shelf. So I instantly picked the book up - I had to read it!The reviews of the book discouraged me, but the reviews of the movie compelled me. It was going to be an adventurous novel, right? I looked forward to it anyway.The only reason why this novel is 4 stars and not 5 is because the writing was not out-of-this-world. I really would have loved to given it 5 stars, but the prose was moderate. Nothing special. Nonetheless, the plot was fascinating, and the characters were amazing as well. Here is my examination:In the beginning of the novel, the characters were given a lot of back-story. I worried that this would inhibit future character development or sudden plot twists due to reveals. The plot twists and reveals were of another nature, actually. And, rather, the character development was awesome!! This is the most character development in a book that I can recall reading! And none of it was cheesy, it was fascinating. Furthermore, the side characters were very supportive and played good roles. They didn't develop much, but greatly helped to push the story along.Also, the beginning of the book seemed to be only about how the relationships between these characters develop. By the end, it is much more sinister than that. Last year I read a book, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and many reviewers said how "this book is full of bad people". To be honest, I didn't see why they were so bad. The characters in this book, The Two Faces of January, were very very bad people. This is where the character development comes into play -- in the beginning, they seemed like normal people. By the end, I couldn't decide who's side to root for because both main characters were doing such horrible things to each other!Furthermore, this invokes the concept of good vs. evil - who is really the evil person? Because people always think that they are right. There might be some problems with their conscience, but they usually think they are right. After all, what terrorist thinks "I'm going to hurt innocent people just because I want to" - no, they think "I want to hurt people because God/whoever is in charge wants me to, because they are not innocent and must be killed!" (or something along those lines).This, I believe, is the meaning of the title: the Two Faces of January. The month January comes from a Roman god with two faces - Janus. He was the god of transitions, beginnings, and passages. While beginning to read the book, I thought the title was a reference to classical mythology - now, looking back, it wouldn't make sense in the book, because Janus was a Roman, not Greek, god. Instead, I believe that the title's significance is how the two main characters have both seemingly innocent and truly sinister sides. It may also refer to how the main characters keep trying to escape, and have new beginnings (ie. changing names, moving to different countries). Janus was also the god of ending wars and conflicts, and this played a major part in the book (see spoiler).And back to the topic of relationships, the idea of love changing judgement was also a major point. The characters' perceptions were often skewed, and they also blamed their problems, on love.(view spoiler)[Finally, I would like to explore a very big piece of symbolism I noticed. In the beginning, we see how Rydal and his father did not have a good relationship together, but rather quite a bad one, and Rydal missed his father's funeral (on purpose). When he first catches sight of Chester, he thinks it is his father. I think that the relationship between these characters was skewed a little from the beginning, but it becomes to develop into the same relation that Rydal and his father had anyway. There is a lot more to it, but I think it is hard to explain and would suggest reading the book again with this in mind. To finish, at the end, Rydal makes a point of going to Chester's funeral - I feel that this is a conclusion to his problems with his father. (hide spoiler)]And for real finality - the setting in the 19(60?)s made this book happen. It could not happen in modern day, with modern security and passport control, real time news, faster planes, boats, etc... And the author writing in the 60's made it all the better. I don't think it would be easy to write this novel in modern day - it wouldn't work.This was a great book! I highly suggest it.

  • Margo
    2019-06-20 22:31

    I can understand why do many authors site Patricia Highsmith as an inspiration. This novel was filled with twists and turns in it's mad dash through Greece, yet still it managed to keep a second, simpler storyline moving along nicely. The story became a bit convoluted in the latter parts but the last line nailed it.

  • Simon
    2019-06-06 05:35

    Patricia Highsmith is generally regarded as an author who bridges the gap between Franz Kafka/Albert Camus-style modern existential literature and James M. Cain-style pulp crime fiction. This is the first novel of hers I read and it certainly fits that reputation, as it functions just as well as a gripping tightly plotted crime thriller and a philosophical exploration of three desperate fates crossing paths with terrible consequences for all involved.The plot revolves around an American businessman and his wife who are on vacation on Greece while they're under investigation for fraud back home. They cross path with another American expatriate, a washed-up lawyer who desperately needs to get back home, when they accidentally kill a police officer while resisting arrest. The lawyer then witnesses the manslaughter and offers the couple a chance to flee if they pay for him to get them fake passports. Of course, as usual in this type of novel things do not go as planned for anyone involved since everyone involved has their own agenda... especially not when the businessman's wife falls in love with the lawyer, who shows himself a much more competent man.The first thing to stand out about the storytelling is that there is no clear protagonist/antagonist pattern. While the plot revolves around a conflict between three people, the point-of-view is split evenly between them and nobody are assigned a moral high ground. The person who ends up the closest thing to the story's hero still acts in a completely amoral manner, being motivated exclusively by own self-interest. Likewise, the character filling the villain role, or at least doing by far the most horrifying acts in the story, comes across as less malevolent than just dangerously impulsive and short-sighted - as a consequence being more a figure of pity than genuine revulsion. This is one of the most morally ambiguous novels I've ever read, and for this it stands out.While the plot is as you can guess rather complex, I also appreciate that the writing's complexity is very subtle in that it's only apparent to the readers when they start thinking about it. Highsmith frequently shifts gears between the inner lives of three people in constant mutual conflict *and* in-depth description of the Greek locations, and she does it so effortlessly that I perhaps would not be so impressed by her if I didn't keep getting flashbacks to David Goodis' "The Wounded and the Slain" which proceeds from a similar plot concept only with much less finesse.In regards to the novel's themes, there's a lot of interesting stuff going on not just regarding the Kafkaesque underworld business bureaucracies the main characters go through in order to help escape from the proper authorities, but also how much modern social structures require a separation between people's public persona and their real selves that make it easy for sociopaths to operate undetected perhaps without knowing they're doing anything wrong. There is some intriguing commentary on gender roles tied into the second theme I mentioned, by the way, especially when the love triangle between the protagonists enters the equation and complicates the conflict further: Both of the male characters appear to hang up much of their self-image regarding social status on their relations to women, much more so than I wager most heterosexual men admit to doing in real life, but many of the exact patterns I can recognize from real life. Perhaps what Patricia Highsmith was trying to do here was bringing the implicit up to the surface, it did *not* surprise me when I later found out she was bisexual and would hence have something of an outsider perspective on the so-called "battle between the sexes"."The Two Faces of January" seems to be one of Highsmith's less well known books and I might have erred in making it the first one I read, but so far that does not appear to be the case and I can highly recommend it to anyone with an interest in any of the literary niches the novel can be categorized under.

  • Maria João Fernandes
    2019-05-28 06:28

    "Eram muitas as coisas sensatas que poderia fazer...mas não fazia nenhuma delas."Chester MacFarland viaja para a Europa com a sua muito mais nova e bela mulher, Collette, mas em vez de apreciarem o que a Grécia tem para lhes oferecer e usufruírem do tempo livre para descansar, veem-se envolvidos numa trama que envolve morte, troca de identidades, perseguição e fuga. Contudo, para pior ou melhor não estão sozinhos: Rydal Keener irá acompanhá-los durante todo o percurso.A história do livro "As Duas Faces de Janeiro" é contada em capítulos que alternam entre os pontos de vista dos dois homens. Patricia Highsmith analisa a relação entre estes dois seres do sexo masculino, sem colocar de parte a presença tão influente do sexo feminino. Diria mesmo que tem um pequeno toque, ainda que discreto, de noir, destacando-se o impacto da femme fatale nos destinos dos envolvidos.A complexidade da personagem de Rydal é o foco principal do enredo. Por um lado, ele é jovem, tem um bom coração e tenta fazer o que está certo. Por outro lado, as decisões por ele tomadas conduzem-no a um destino obscuro. A autora e mestre do suspense consegue, uma vez mais, ganhar a simpatia do leitor através da amoralidade. Highsmith manipula na perfeição a mente do leitor, tal como o faz com as suas personagens. A verdade é que, por vezes, os criminosos conquistam o nosso coração com mais facilidade que uma pessoa honesta e bondosa. Porque será?Como em todos os seus romances, as personagens são sedutoramente infantis, deliciosamente amorais e por demais perspicazmente complexas. Em acréscimo, as descrições minuciosas permitem-nos visualizar os pormenores mais ínfimos e os cenários mais surpreendentes. Apesar disso, sinto que a batalha psicológica entre os dois homens se alongou no final, tornando-se cansativa e repetitiva.É sempre um prazer ler Patricia Highsmith, nunca me canso de ver retratada a natureza humana.

  • Lesley
    2019-06-04 06:35

    Patricia Highsmith did well with this book! A good con artist story. This is set in Greece, and reminds me of her Tom Ripley stories!

  • Isabel Jazmín
    2019-06-27 01:43

    No entendía para dónde iba la historia, hasta que sucedió el primer asesinato y pensé: "Ésta es la Highsmith que yo conozco". Y a partir de ahí la lectura se fue suave, suave.

  • FP
    2019-06-12 05:39

    Dos hombres se encuentran en una situación un tanto inusual y se ven enganchados el uno a otro de tal forma que terminan formando una codependencia. Uno es un estafador alcohólico, celoso y propenso a rabietas, con una esposa joven. El otro es un joven que está de ocioso y que termina metido en todo el lío por actuar de forma no muy lista (y movido más bien por alguna clase de complejo freudiano). La tensión y la paranoia se irá acumulando en ambos a medida que tratan de ponerse en el lugar del otro y de mantenerse siempre un paso delante, al punto que uno no sabe realmente cuál de los dos va a salir bien parado, si es que alguno lo hará.Muy buen thriller de Highsmith, mostrando como en muchos de sus otros libros su capacidad de crearle todo un perfil picológico a sus personajes. En lo personal, me pareció que el final era algo más alegre que los finales usuales de ella.

  • Juancho Juanchito Books
    2019-06-10 01:48

    Bueno este es el primer libro y no va a hacer el ultimo libro que lea de esta de esta mujer, Patricia, nos introduce en una historia llena de miedos, mentiras, erotismo, y de buenas y malas decisiones, con un unos personajes tan reales, que tanto sus decisiones, y sus pensamientos, no van a catapultar a una historia sorprendente, donde los recuerdos, y las comparaciones, puede acabar con nuestras vidas.

  • Michael
    2019-06-07 23:32

    Con artist Chester MacFarland is wanted by the police back in America, but here in Greece, he feels free to roam with his young Colette. That was until he accidently kills a police officer in his hotel room. The young American law graduate, Rydal Keener is there to help them escape the city. This accident has brought the three together but is this for the best or is there something else at play?Patricia Highsmith is often referred to as the queen of suspense and The Two Faces of January does not do anything to contradict this. The title alone gives the reader a pretty clear idea of what to expect; the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus has two faces, one looking to the future while the other looks at the past. The term Janus-faced means “having two sharply contrasting aspects or characteristics”. In the biography Beautiful Shadow: A Life of Patricia Highsmith by Andrew Wilson, Highsmith stated that the title was a reference to the flux-like nature of the characters that she likes to create.When it comes to character development, Patricia Highsmith really shines like no other. She has a great ability to create complex characters that feel authentic, and that is an ability that I find lacking in a lot of suspense novels. In The Two Faces of January, Highsmith creates a love triangle that is actually interesting to read about. There is the homoerotic relationship between Chester and Rydal and Colette is also quite taken by this young law graduate. This turns the book into more of a psychological look at the shifting nature of relationships rather than a thriller. It does depends on how the reader decides to read The Two Faces of January but for me the depth is what stood out for me.I probably should mention that The Two Faces of January was adapted into a movie back in 2014 starring Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac. This was the directorial debut for Hossein Amini, who is best known writing the screenplay for the novels Drive and Our Kind of Traitor; he even wrote the script for The Two Faces of January. I know I need to have more Highsmith within my reading life and I am thinking about re-reading The Talented Mr Ripley, before continuing on with the series. I have noticed there are new editions of the Highsmith’s novels lately and I think I should take advantage of the availability while they are easily accessible.This review originally appeared on my blog;

  • Surreysmum
    2019-06-01 05:26

    I went looking for this one because Viggo Mortensen's name is attached to a possible movie adaptation. Rather to my surprise, I discover this is the first Highsmith I have read, though I'm certainly familiar with the names of her more celebrated works, "Strangers on a Train" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley."Curiously, I found myself "over-reading" this at first. Even though the story is very firmly and obviously in the POV of the two male characters (in alternating chapters) I kept questioning whether I was getting an accurate accounting of their motives. That was particularly true of the young man, Rydal Keener, who gets himself mixed up in a homicide for what seems like no reason at all. Eventually, however, I came to trust the author, and to enjoy the ambiguities of the behaviour of both men, neither of whom is particularly likeable, but both of whom gain a certain amount of our sympathy regardless. Alas, Colette remains a bit of a cypher, since we never really hear her thoughts.If a screenwriter can find a way (with the assistance of good actors) of conveying without saying aloud the painful truth behind all the international highjinks, namely that Rydal's ambivalent behaviour towards his enemy Chester has everything to do with his own unhappy relationship with his father - then the film may well succeed. I don't think it could be successfully brought forward to the present day; so much of the plot depends on inefficiencies of communication and passport barriers within Europe.The very first chapter had a special resonance for me. I've never been through the Corinth Canal, but I most certainly have experienced the thrill of getting up at an unusual time to see some strange and wondrous sight, such as passing through that canal. It was a lovely metaphor for Chester to be passing through to another stage of his existence, but more than that it simply grabbed this reader. May just seek out some more Highsmith.

  • Bruce Beckham
    2019-06-02 05:29

    I gather the title of this book derives from the (literally) two-faced Roman god Janus, and alludes to the novel’s two male antagonists, Americans forty-something Chester and twenty-something Rydal.The story, however, is set largely in Athens (and not Rome as might be expected), although it does take place in January; supplying inclement conditions that enhance the sombre mood.Despising one another, Chester and Rydal waltz through the story locked in a reluctant embrace – an orbit destabilised by an alluring female, Colette (Chester’s young wife, no less) – inevitably causing the combatants to spin out of control.It is a fascinating exercise in the narrator’s point of view, for Ms Highsmith switches from one actor to the other, further amplifying the giddying sense of their fates being uncontrollably and inextricably intertwined. (And bound for disaster.)As I have worked my way through the ‘Highsmiths’ I have become accustomed to their ‘tailing off’ – but I would say this one resolves more satisfactorily than most (while still managing to leave you feeling a little uneasy).

  • PaulineButcher Bird
    2019-06-13 06:40

    I bought this book after hearing critics praise Highsmith's books and because it has been made into a film. I had not read her work before so was not prepared for the tedious tale that stretched over hundreds of pages and could have been told in 50. Turgid dialogue from unbelievable characters like Rydal's obsession with Chester because he looks like his abusive father, Collette who finds 20-something Rydal attractive - of course - after being married to 40-something Chester. Only Chester has some validity and reason for acting the way he does. But the story is so-o-o-o-o slowly told that I skipped and skipped and skipped over Rydal's and Chester's inner ruminations and still kept track of the plot. I consider this hours of my life wasted and won't be picking up another Highsmith book. (Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa by Pauline Butcher)

  • Debbie
    2019-06-15 05:50

    Overall I enjoyed the book. I originally saw this in a movie preview, thought to myself, it must be a book... and, of course, it was. I had never heard of Patricia Highsmith, so now I look forward to reading some of her other books, get a feel for her. I picked this book up from the library and had it read in a matter of days. All around good murder mystery, loved the plot and now I get to watch the movie (which is never as good as a book!!)

  • ღ Carol jinx~☆~
    2019-06-13 22:54

    Patricia Highsmith never fails to surprise me.The story starts in Athens where Rydal Keener is waiting to get bored enough to want to go back to the U.S.Walking through the hallway of the hotel, he encounters a man trying to drag a body down the hall. Interesting! He gets involved in helping Chester and his wife. You will have to read it to find out why.

  • Antonis
    2019-06-11 01:47

    The plot, the characters and the atmosphere reminds me of the Ripley books. A bit slow around half way, but speeds up towards the end. I would recommend it for summer reading, especially if you are traveling to Greece!

  • Gavin Armour
    2019-06-22 04:34

    Ausnahmsweise eine Anmerkung zur Ausgabe vorweg: Es ist dem Diogenes Verlag nicht hoch genug anzurechnen, daß er seit 2002 die Mühe auf sich nimmt, die Werke der Grande Dame des Psychothrillers und jener Chronistin der Entfremdung des Einzelnen in der Moderne - Patricia Highsmith - nicht nur neu übersetzen zu lassen und damit auch dem deutschsprachigen Publikum erstmals wirklich ungekürzt zur Verfügung zu stellen, sondern jedes einzelne Buch auch mit einem ebenso kundigen wie informativen Nachwort des Herausgebers Paul Ingendaay zu versehen.Und eben dieses informiert den Leser der ZWEI GESICHTER DES JANUAR, daß dies Highsmiths in den Verlagen umstrittenster Roman war. Nicht gesellschaftlich wohlgemerkt. Ihr bisheriger Verleger Harper&Row lehnte das ursprüngliche Manuskript ab und Ingendaay weist auf den Werkstattbericht hin, der uns Aufschluß darüber gibt, was Highsmith da vorhatte. Man kann das schließlich veröffentlichte Buch durchaus darin erkennen, man kann vor allem erkennen, daß einiges, was im vorliegenden Werk angedeutet und auf brillante Art in der Schwebe gehalten wird, ursprünglich, als Groteske geplant, dem Leser geradezu ins Gesicht gesprungen wäre. Highsmith hat zwei weitere Romane geschrieben während der Genese dieses Werks, daß sie schließlich 1964 erst in London, dann, erneut um ca. 40 Seiten gekürzt, auch in den USA veröffentlichen konnte. Wenige ihrer Bücher hatten eine solch komplizierte und eben auch den Auseinandersetzungen mit den Verlagen geschuldete Entwicklungsgeschichte hinter sich. Und man meint, dem Roman das anmerken zu können.Nun ist grundsätzlich festzuhalten, daß die Highsmith in einer Liga spielt - vergleichbar nur mit wirklichen Größen unter ihren Kollegen - in der Kritik immer nur auf hohem, höchstem, Niveau geäußert wird. Auch ein weniger gelungener Roman der Künstlerin ragt noch haushoch über die Durchschnittsware hinaus. "Weniger gelungen" - nicht "schlecht". Schlechte Romane dieser Autorin sind dem Rezensenten bisher keine untergekommen und da sie uns bereits verlassen hat, werden ihm also auch keine mehr begegnen. Dennoch ist - mit den oben beschriebenen Kenntnissen - verständlicher, weshalb DIE ZWEI GESICHTER DES JANUAR seltsam uneinheitlich wirkt. Wie man es von ihren besten Werken - RIPLEY´S GAME, THE CRY OF THE OWL oder EDITH´S DIARY (u.a.) - gewohnt ist, werden mit wenigen aber ungemein feinen Strichen Charaktere umrissen, Beziehungen und ihre inneren Motive nachgezeichnet, Entwicklungen angedeutet. Gewohnt minimalistisch führt uns die Autorin in ein europäisches Setting - Athen, Kreta, Paris sind die wesentlichen Schauplätze - , durch das sich entwurzelte Amerikaner bewegen, die entweder juristische oder moralische Probleme haben. Oder beides. Ein Trickbetrüger, der in den USA eine Art Schneeballsystem aus sich gegenseitig finanzierenden Aktiengesellschaften aufgebaut hat, seine lebenslustige und sehr viel jüngere Frau und ein junger Mann, der der Konfrontation mit seinem Vater, welcher ihn wegen einer Affäre mit der Cousine angegangen ist, scheut und sogar dem Begräbnis des inzwischen Verstorbenem fernbleibt: Es sind für Patricia Highsmith recht typische Figuren und in dem Beziehungsgeflecht, das hier entsteht, entwickeln sich Konflikte, werden Taten begangen und Tricks angewandt, die uns ebenfalls an andere Highsmith-Figuren denken lassen. Ferne Echos von STRANGERS ON A TRAIN oder auch von Tom Ripleys erstem literarischen Auftritt in THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY sind zu vernehmen. Und in das Gewebe, das da nach und nach entsteht und dann abrupt und plötzlich auf für den Leser verstörende Art und Weise abgebrochen und praktisch noch einmal neu erstellt wird, sind durchaus auch Anlehnungen an die griechische Mythologie eingeflochten. Chester McFarland, jener Trickbetrüger, der im Laufe der Handlung mehrere Male auf die Hilfe eines Amateurs angewiesen ist, erinnert Rydal Keener, jenen mit seiner noch gar nicht so langen Vergangenheit beschäftigten Jüngling, der sich im Laufe der Handlung als recht abgebrüht erweist, auf eklatante Weise an den Vater, der bei der Vergangenheitsbewältigung eine so zentrale Rolle einnimmt. Es spiegelt sich Vergangenes im Gegenwärtigen, dem Gegenwärtigen wird das Vergangene zum Maß. Der Vater wird im Fremden bekämpft, auch, indem man auf die Avancen dessen sehr viel jüngerer Frau einzugehen erwägt, was beim Älteren wiederum dessen ureigenste Ängste auslöst. Und dieses seltsame Geflecht aus Anziehung, Abstoßen, Liebe, Hass und der Tatsache, daß man, ohne es zu merken, aufeinander angewiesen ist, fast miteinander verwachsen, schicksalhaft aneinander gebunden gar scheint, ähnelt in seiner Kompliziertheit durchaus einem Labyrinth, wie dem von Knossos, wo eine der Hauptfiguren schließlich ihr Leben aushauchen wird.Das ist alles hervorragend konstruiert und mit der bekannten sprachlichen Finesse ausgeführt. Umso mehr erstaunt es den Leser dann, wenn er momentweise mit ausgesprochen plumpen Beschreibungen der Charaktere und psychologisch arg einfachen Lösungen konfrontiert wird. Und anhand derer die Figuren auch ein wenig ungenau bleiben. Vor allem in der Charakterisierung Chesters, der in diesem Reigen die interessanteste Figur darstellt, treten da manchmal Widersprüchlichkeiten auf, die man lange hinzunehmen bereit ist, die aber schließlich ein unscharfes Bild ergeben, ohne dabei die Figur zu vertiefen, anders zu analysieren oder gar ernsthaft zu brechen. Chester ist eine jener Figuren im Highsmith-Kosmos, die abdriften, immer mehr den sicheren Boden verlieren und schließlich ein äußerst verzerrtes Bild der sie umgebenden Wirklichkeit haben, bis hin zum Wahnhaften, Psychotischen, was in diesem Fall durch den permanenten Alkoholgenuß noch unterstützt wird. Doch Highsmith zeichnet hier auch - man merkt an einigen Stellen, daß das alles einst als Farce, Komödie, 'comedy story' angelegt war - das Porträt eines lächerlichen Mannes. An Colette, seiner Frau - DER Frau in dieser Konstellation - zeigt sich die Autorin deutlich weniger interessiert, sie bleibt uns Lesenden eher oberflächlich das, was sie für die Männer ihrer Umgebung sowieso ist: Eine Projektionsfläche. Highsmith interessieren die Männer und deren Mechanismen. Fast chirurgisch untersucht sie den Kampf zweier Generationen: Den des Sohnes gegen den (symbolischen) Vater, den eines älteren Mannes gegen den Verlust von Macht, Einfluß, Potenz und - was im Laufe der Handlung auf verschiedenen Ebenen immer wesentlicher wird - Deutungshoheit. Und das alles symbolisiert für Chester der junge Rydal. Und wie die meisten Männer, die meinen, ihre Kämpfe immer weiter ausfechten zu müssen, auch wenn sie eigentlich schon keine Gegner mehr haben, wird eben auch Chester dabei zusehends zu einer traurigen Gestalt, mit der man aber kein Mitleid aufzubringen bereit ist, zu windig und opportunistisch, zu kalt und materialistisch ist sein Naturell.Vielleicht lag es an der langen und wechselhaften Entstehungsgeschichte, vielleicht an der Tatsache, daß Patricia Highsmith dadurch, daß sie sich längst mit anderem, darunter dem Meisterwerk THE CRY OF THE OWL, beschäftigte, nicht mehr die ganz spezifische Kraft und Konzentration, die einem Werk gebührt, aufgebracht haben mag - THE TWO FACES OF JANUARY bleibt in ihrem Ouvre ähnlich zwiespältig, wie die Figuren im Buch. Uneindeutig, mit unsympathischem und dem Leser fernen Personal, unentschlossen ob der eigentlichen Richtung, die es nehmen sollte, könnte, müsste, macht die Autorin dieses Zwiespältige noch im besten Sinne zu einer Tugend und erzählt genau davon: Einem Hin und Her in allen Beziehungen und Zusammenhängen. Keine der Hauptfiguren dieses Romans macht je den Eindruck, wirklich zu wissen, was sie will. Keine macht den Eindruck, sich entscheiden zu können. Selbst der Chester, dem wir anfangs begegnen, bevor die schicksalhaften Ereignisse eintreten, wirkt unsicher und abhängig von Colettes Urteilen und Wünschen, die er zugleich ständig in Abrede stellen muß. Ein Hin und Her aus Anschmiegsamkeit und Autonomiebestrebungen. So hat man es bei diesem Roman mit einem seltsamen Hybrid zu tun: Alle schriftstellerischen Fähigkeiten, die das Werk der Highsmith so fantastisch, so packend und hintergründig machen sind hier vorhanden, sie bietet uns ein vielschichtiges psychologisches Geflecht eines ungewöhnlichen männlichen Duos. Dennoch gibt es mindestens zweimal den Punkt in der Lektüre, an dem den Leser das Gefühl beschleicht, daß es eigentlich reicht, die Handlung an einem natürlichen Ende angelangt scheint. Und so wirkt das Ende schließlich zu gewollt, da es eine Unbedingtheit behauptet, die der Rest des Textes ununterbrochen unterläuft. Brüche, wohin man schaut. Natürlich ist der Roman trotzdem zu empfehlen, allein, weil es ein Roman der großen Highsmith ist. Eher einer aus der zweiten Reihe, erzählt er aber gerade in dem, was man als seine Fehler wahrzunehmen meint, viel darüber, was diese zeitlebens so unterschätzte Schriftstellerin aber so zeitlos modern und wahrhaftig macht.

  • Saturday's Child
    2019-06-14 22:29

    Watched the movie ages ago and recently had the urge to read the novel.

  • Guy Salvidge
    2019-06-25 00:54

    Very intriguing! This is my second Highsmith novel but the first of her mysteries (the other being Carol). It's a cat and mouse game spanning Greece and France in the sixties. The two main characters, Chester and Rydal, are well drawn and lifelike. There's a lot to recommend this to reader of crime fiction, essentially. Especially those, like me, who like it darker than light.

  • Jenny Yates
    2019-06-11 22:39

    This is a different kind of thriller, but very gripping. It’s not a matter of “who did it?” as it’s clear all along who did what. What we don’t know is how things will play themselves out. Since the murderer is one of the main characters, we feel a certain strange sympathy. It’s strange because the man is not particularly likeable. And yet we spend a lot of time watching him, and we learn what he’s thinking. The rest of this review contains spoilers, so this is the time to stop reading if you don’t want to know…The main character is a con man, Chester MacFarland, who is traveling in Greece with his wife Colette. As the novel begins, the law is closing in, and he fights back, accidentally killing a Greek policeman in his hotel room. A stranger appears - Rydal Keener – and, without asking for anything, takes a role as Chester’s aide, accomplice, and interpreter. Why does Rydal go so far out of his way to help Chester? It’s because Chester looks like Rydal’s father, who has just died. They had a tricky relationship, and Rydal was left wanting to prove something. And more, Colette reminds Rydal of the young cousin he was in love with, in his teens – a love affair that was thwarted by his father. These painful associations drive Rydal’s otherwise inexplicable actions.However, Chester has to pigeonhole Rydal, one way or another. Is he a blackmailer? Is he after Colette? When he speaks to people in Greek, what is he really saying? What’s going on? Chester can’t accept help without knowing what the price will be, and so he reenacts Rydal’s previous trauma with his father. It’s a fascinating study of two men – how they see themselves, how they see the world around them. Their relationship is strange, intimate without being sexual, but ultimately impossible, because neither can see the other as he truly is.

  • Kenneth P.
    2019-06-18 06:38

    SPOILERS HERE! This is a psychological thriller that brings three Americans together in Greece. There is 42 year old Chester, his 25 year old wife Colette and 25 year old Rydal who, after college, is spending a couple of years bumming around Europe. Rydal sees Chester as a dead ringer for his father (whom he hated); Colette reminds Rydal of a cousin with whom he had a sexual affair at the age of 15. So there it is-- a faux incestuous triangle. Right off the bat there is a killing in Athens, somewhat accidental, that binds this hapless trio together. They flee to Crete where the bizarre triangle begins to nibble away at itself. Rydal and Colette, of course, begin a titillating, if unconsummated affair. Meanwhile, alcoholic con man Chester fumes and drinks. Patricia Highsmith takes pains to work the creepy psychology between these three. It's what drives the book. So paramount is the strange three-way relationship that plausibility and common sense just disappear. Three people being hunted by police decide to become tourists in Crete because the historic site of Knossos is a must. If it is important to pound psychological intricacies, it should be equally important to provide character motivation. But that is not the case.Questioned by Greek police about the murder of his wife, Chester says pretty much, "The other guy did it." And the cops say pretty much, "OK, you're free to go."Rydal escapes from French police in ridiculous fashion. You see, It's important that cops be idiots because these two males must face one another again. It's important to maintain, at all costs, this symbiotic father-son doppelganger. At times it's downright laughable. For Highsmith, in Two Faces of January, psychology trumps plausibility at every turn.

  • Yellowoasis
    2019-06-11 02:26

    I've got this book from the library because I read that it's about to be made into a film with Viggo Mortensen.Later: It’s going to be interesting to see what Hollywood makes of the moral ambiguities of this tale. I suspect it will be heavily adapted away from the novel, although I am sure they will make much of the topicality of Chester's business dealings. I do like Highsmith’s darkness. At some points I found the length of this novel to be far too much, but I also appreciated how she drew out the agony of the two men whose lives become so entwined.