Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley, by Patricia Highsmith. Originally published 1955. This edition 2008 by Norton. Literary Fiction. Crime Fiction. Required Reading.

An aimless young man heads to Europe to bring home a wealthy prodigal son from the Amalfi coast, only to find his true calling in murder and deception.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a classic everyone should read. I don't know what took me so long, honestly. Never mind the stupid 1999 film adaptation starring Matt Damon (!) as Ripley; read the book, it will take you just as long because you won't be able to put it down.

It's the late 1950s in New York City, and Tom Ripley is a young man living from one day to the next on the fruits of labor both honest and dishonest when Herbert Greenleaf approaches him a bar and asks him to go to Italy to bring home his layabout son Dickie. Tom knows the Greenleafs slightly through the New York party circuit and he takes the job, figuring he can parlay it into other opportunities once his errand is complete. But he has no idea what lay ahead, either for himself or the Greenleafs.

Tom becomes obsessed with Dickie and Dickie's lifestyle and wants no less than to have it- all of it- for himself. And if can't have Dickie and Dickie's money, then... Tom is a mesmerizing character, not only because he's so evil but because we get to watch his transformation from front-row seats. The signs are there from the beginning if you look for them, the instability and the temper, but also the intelligence and cunning. The best part for me though was the fact that his greatest successes come from his greatest mistakes. His success depends on others' ignorance as much as his own smarts.

This is book is required reading for sure. So much of modern crime fiction depends on Tom Ripley. Even a character like Amy Dunne of Gone Girl is a child of Tom Ripley. By the way the only film adaptation worth bothering with is René Clement's 1960 adapation Purple Noon (Plein Soleil) starring the beautiful Alain Delon as Tom, although that movie wimps out at the end. But you have to read The Talented Mr. Ripley. You just have to.

This was part of the Read My Own Damn Books Challenge.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.


Cleopatra Loves Books said...

I really enjoyed this and totally agree with your comments about how much more 'modern' psychological thrillers owe an awful lot to Patricia Highsmith's creation.

Shelley said...

I must read this sooner rather than later! Especially since you highlighted its influence on modern crime fiction.

Anonymous said...

I love this book so much. I re-read it every couple of years. She's written a couple other books with Ripley in them, but none are as good as this one.

Anonymous said...

Such a delicious book! I did the audiobook last year. Now you have me wanting to watch Purple Moon. Thx!