The Talented Mr. Ripley

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Talented Mr. Ripley
by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley is a quiet unassuming young man. When the opportunity to go to Europe to track down a former classmate comes along he jumps at the chance. Once he's there we begin to see the real Tom. He finds the old acquantance, Dickie Greenleaf, and Dickie's friend Marge. He insinuates himself into their lives in a small Italian village. There's a line at the beginning of the book where Ripley tells Dickie's father something and then in his own mind he says, "which was true." It immediately cues the reader into the fact that they can't trust the narrator and most of what he tells people is probably a lie. 

The beauty of this book is watching Ripley slowly reveal himself to the reader. It's not a single snap, it's peeling layers off an onion, exposing his inability to connect with the world around him. He sees  murder, deceipt and theft as a game. 

"Risks were what made the whole thing fun." 

He thrives on the cat and mouse interactions he has with the police and Dickie's family and friends. It's a twisted view of the world, but it's fascinating. For a book that deals with so much dark action it feels very calm. Highsmith manages to convey Ripley's distance from everything to the reader. Even as people edge closer to the truth, he is hardly ruffled. He has no remorse, no compassion. He justifys his actions in his own mind and smoothly moves forward to the next challenge.

BOTTOM LINE: Ripley is one of the most fascinating characters I've ever encountered and this story is an enthralling look at his slow creep towards his true nature.

"Tom didn't think too much of him, but, on the other hand, it was not wise to underestimate one's opponent."


Anonymous said...

|Patricia Highsmith is brilliant. I loved the Tom Ripley books. Are you planning on reading the others in the series?

Sandy Nawrot said...

I saw this movie years ago and really liked it. Even at that time, I thought that I really needed to read this book, because I just knew there was so much more to the story than the movie probably communicated.

Brooke said...

I've seen the movie and remember next to nothing. A fellow booktuber loves Highsmith and now knowing you've enjoyed this as well, I need to move it up on the to-read list.

thecuecard said...

Yeah the movie is Creepy. Must be a good even better book! cheers.

Kailana said...

I have seen the movie and really didn't like it very much... It was years ago, though. It might be different now!

jmisgro said...

I must read this...I did not like the movie - partly because I don't like Matt Damon.

Leslie @ This is the Refrain said...

I remember watching this movie, but I don't really remember much about it. The book sounds really great, though!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

52booksorbust - I definitely want to read more if the others are as good as this one!

Sandy - The major thing that the movie is missing is Tom's point of view. So much is happening inside his head and that's the creepiest part!

Brooke - I was surprised to learn that Highsmith wrote the book Strangers on a Train is based on too!

thecurecard - Very creepy!

Kailana - I feel like the movie didn't communicate what was going on inside of Tom's head and that part is crucial to the story.

jmisgro - It's been so long since I've seen it, but I remember Gwyneth Paltrow was one of the main characters and I think she was much too glamorous for the role.

Lu - I watched the movie years ago, but it's been a long time.