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The Talented Mr. Ripley

(Book #1 in the Ripley Series)

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Book Overview

Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath. Here, in the first Ripley novel, we are introduced to suave Tom Ripley, a young striver, newly arrived in the heady... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

The Ultimate Empathic Antihero!

The character development of Tom Ripley is what makes The Talented Mr. Ripley one of the great crime novels of the 20th century. Ms. Highsmith is an acute observer and is able to translate her sensitivity into a multidimensional portrait of a successful criminal in a way that is virtually unmatched. One of the most astonishing qualities of this book is that you will find yourself pulling for Ripley, even though he is as amoral a character as you will read about. We meet Tom Ripley almost as casually as new friends do. It's only by following him around, hearing his thoughts and observing what he does that we realize who he is. Ripley is an immensely capable man who floats like a newly cut wood chip on the surging tides of life, always buoyant regardless of the circumstances. He is extremely impulsive. If there's candy there, he cannot resist it. At the same time, he has so little invested in who he is that he can even be happier pretending to be someone else. He's a man without a core. He is also unattached to the world's judgments. He looks for neither approval nor acclaim. Solitude suits him well. The story opens as the father of a casual acquaintance tracks Ripley down in a bar. The father wants to persuade his son to return from Italy to take up a career in the family business. Through this contact, Ripley finds himself sent off to Europe as a paid-for emissary with an expense account. Once there, Ripley makes no headway but does develop a friendship with his casual acquaintance before strains start to develop. What follows is one of the most interesting and intricate plot lines that it will ever be your pleasure to read. The book's largest theme is about identity. Who are we really? Can we be someone different from whom we seem to be? How do we misjudge one another? I don't remember any other crime novel that explores such subtle questions so well. I recently reread this novel for the third time. I found depths in the themes and story telling that I had missed before. Even if you have read it before, I suggest you do so again. If you haven't read any of the Ripley novels, you have a great treat ahead of you. The next book in the series is Ripley under Ground. Enjoy a great read!

Premeditative Murderer

Tom Ripley: the name conjures up an image of the all American boy--a little shy, modest and not as suavely in control as a European counterpart. The old adage that one should not judge a book by its cover could not be a truer in this instance. Poor, underprivledged Tom takes his pursuit of the American dream a little too seriously, yet he manages to pull off unbelievable and almost unspeakable acts with the finesse and skill of a master jeweler and the audacity of a veteran politician. Highsmith's impressionistic style enables the reader to get into Ripley's all too calculating mind while viewing his mild mannered sidebars with a droll aplomb. The transition from cornered felon to cold murderer flows unperturbed into one's mind unquestioningly. Ripley's activities are deemed acceptable and surprisingly the reader is not shocked. On the contrary, one finds oneself rooting for him to dupe or subdue anyone who gets in his way. Anyone who has seen the 1999 movie offering starring Matt Damon, will not be satisfied with its director's interpretation of Tom's motives. Instead of the cold, enigmatic, amoral, asexual goal-seeker of the book, the audience is confronted with a flawed nobody who is definitely less than Highsmith's Ripley. The movie version is a haunted soul attracted to homosexuality, buoyed by a yearning for the post WWII dolce vita of America's privledged class and incensed with the underdog's cowed yet vengeful need to fight back when shunned and bested by his so-called betters. Although the movie is highly entertaining, and Damon's performance is commendable, Highsmith's Ripley is reduced to what we are all too familiar with--an unfortunate product of dysfunctional 20th century life who would benefit greatly from prolonged sessions with the best Park Avenue psychiatrist, whereas the 'hero' of the book is perfectly happy with who he is and the decisions he makes to further entrench himself on the path he has chosen. Bravo Ripley!

Sinister Genius

As good as the new movie is, Highsmith's novel offers details that let you know from the beginning that Tom Ripley is not your average 'good boy gone wrong.' His little game with the IRS in the first chapter displays a kind of cat-like cruelty abscent from Matt Damon's character. His ability at mathamatics, especially finance, was also replaced with music in the film, perhaps to move the story along, but abstract calculation is the key to Tom's 'success'. And Tom's final touch of forging Dickie's will is much more convincing than the 'gift' of part of the trust fund in the film. This is the first of Highsmith's five Ripley stories. The first three are stunning, frightening, and wonderful, as we watch Ripley evolve in power and confidence. The last two are interesting but as Tom grows mature and secure, he also grows complacent. While he is always cunning, in 'The Boy That Followed Ripley' and 'Ripley Under Water' he is very slow to anger and his 'crimes' are more like selfdefense. Another thing missing from the film that permeates the novels is Highsmith's drole humor. Tom Ripley's stories are quite funny if viewed with an eye toward reality. No one can possibly be so reprehensibly lucky. I've often tried to imagine what his astrological chart must look like.

Sympathetic Psychopath

After I saw the film, "The Talented Mr. Ripley", I was anxious to read the book for two reason. First of all, I had been very impressed with the delicate manner in which Anthony Mangela reworked "The English Patient" into film, so I was curious to see if he had done so here as well. Secondly, I loved the idea of the story and was curious about the writer."The Talented Mr. Ripley" is a wonderful novel on several levels. It is different, it is highly suspenseful and in its own way it is believable. Did I come away from the book believing that anyone could get away with so bold and complex a crime? No. Did I find Tom Ripley to be a believable character? Absolutely.Highsmith's gift in part is to make us empathize with Tom Ripley. In a subtle and understated way, we are drawn to Tom Ripley. While his motives and actions may be morally repellent, his feelings and judgment are oddly agreeable. His crummy friends in New York remind me of the crummy friends that I could not wait to abandon there. His sense of purpose and his deliberate role playing on the journey to Italy are probably common to every young man on his first major voyage. Ripley's attitude and experience have enough in common with us that we are drawn in. We are drawn in to the point that we eventually realize with a start that we are empathizing with a premeditated murderer.Highsmith does not make a social commentary about the potential killer in all of us. Instead, she adds enough common touches to the killer to make us become his unwitting sympathizers.The book also serves as a refreshing travelogue. Highsmith is clearly well traveled and she uses her experiences well. In the hands of a less adept writer, Ripley would have been annoying and the tone of the book too pretentious. As it were, Highsmith writes with great subtlety and skill. Mangela's adaptation of the book departs significantly from the original. Never the less, it is as authentic and well made as his adaptation of "The English Patient".

More than just a Murder Mystery

One of the great strengths of this book is the Authors ability to develop the theme of hero worship, its drug like highs and its dangerous lows. As Tom Ripley enters Dickie Greanleafs world Tom begins to idolize Dickie and the life Dickie so effortlessly lives. Most everyone growing up has idolized another, whether it be the highschool quarterback, the prom queen, the affluent, or the gifted artist. The adoration one feels towards a hero is a mixture of loyalty, obsession and unrealistic expectation. What happens when a person actually is able to get close to their idol? What happens when an idol becomes bored with a loyal follower? Ms. Highsmith reveals the darker side of desire and the intrigue that follows. The need for friendship and acceptance are the key factors that keep us as readers connected to Tom even though he is a murderer. Ms. Highsmith has chosen to explore the darker side of rejection and the effects on the participants. This book will hit you on many different levels and you will think about this story long after you have read through it. A true masterpiece!

The Talented Mr. Ripley Mentions in Our Blog

The Talented Mr. Ripley in Intense Movies Based on Intense Books
Intense Movies Based on Intense Books
Published by Karen DeGroot Carter • October 19, 2020

If you love good page-turners that keep you up reading all night or suspenseful flicks that keep you on the edge of your seat, the following thrillers are just what you need.

The Talented Mr. Ripley in The Role Books Played for 6 of The Biggest Stars of 2018
The Role Books Played for 6 of The Biggest Stars of 2018
Published by Beth Clark • December 31, 2018

Instead of doing a typical "year in review" post like everyone else, we thought it would be fun to close the door on 2018 from a different angle: by looking back at the books that played roles in the careers of the year's biggest stars. Everybody has to start somewhere, but with hard work and a few lucky literary breaks, these household names didn't stop there.

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