Book Review, literature, Post

Review “The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith (Ripley #1)

Title: The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley #1)
Author: Patricia Highsmith
Publication: Vintage
Release Date: August 5th 1999
Genre: Thriller (Crime)

Spoilers: NO SPOILERS!
Rating: (4/5)

“Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers. In this first novel, we are introduced to suave, handsome Tom Ripley: a young striver, newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan in the 1950s. A product of a broken home, branded a “sissy” by his dismissive Aunt Dottie, Ripley becomes enamored of the moneyed world of his new friend, Dickie Greenleaf. This fondness turns obsessive when Ripley is sent to Italy to bring back his libertine pal but grows enraged by Dickie’s ambivalent feelings for Marge, a charming American dilettante. A dark reworking of Henry James’s The Ambassadors, The Talented Mr. Ripley—is up to his tricks in a 90s film and also Rene Clement’s 60s film, “Purple Noon.”” [Goodreads]

I read this novel for a course about detective novels and I really liked it. It isn’t a conventional detective novel, because it is written from the perspective of the criminal instead of the detective and that is why I liked this novel a lot. It gives a new perspective and it made me feel rather strange, because I felt sympathy for Tom Ripley, but I knew I shouldn’t.

This novel is about Tom Ripley who everyone, including himself, believes to be a failure. However, when he is offered a reward to bring Dickie Greenleaf home to his parents, he accepts and he travels to Italy to do so. He then becomes obsessed with Dickie and well, let’s just say that his obsession goes from bad to worse and it all turns criminal at some point.

The main character, Tom Ripley, is mainly why I liked this novel so much. I mean, he is essentially a murderous sociopath, but I still sympathized with him and wanted him to be ok in the end. I know I should not sympathize with someone like Tom, but somehow I still do. So my compliments to Highsmith who made a character do repulsive things, but still managed him to be likable by the reader.

The plot is rather slow in this novel. It does have suspense, but the story still develops slowly, as opposed to other (popular) thriller and crime novels. The slowness never really bothered me, because it fit really well with the story and if it would have been a mistake to give a story like this a faster pace. This way you can really focus on the character of Ripley and I think that is very well done.

I definitely recommend The Talented Mr. Ripley to anyone who likes crime stories, because for once you don’t try to solve the crime, but you see it from a different perspective. I also think this is a bit of a modern classic and that everyone should at least try to read this one, since it is well written and, like Nabokov’s Lolita, it makes you feel a bit ambiguous for reading it.


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