Talented Mr. Ripley

Highsmith, Patricia.The Talented Mr. Ripley, Ripley Under Ground, Ripley’s Game. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1999.

I think everyone has seen the 1999 movie, but here is a brief overview: Tom Ripley reminds me of Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello in the way he is able to manipulate any situation to his advantage. Tom comes from poverty and loneliness having grown up without parents. His formative years were shaped by an overbearing aunt who belittled him at every opportunity. Tom learned early on he would need to con his way through life in order to survive it. When the IRS begins to close on him concerning a check cashing scheme, Tom is approached with a business proposition by the wealthy father of an acquaintance he cannot refuse. The opportunity is simple: Mr. Greenleaf has hired Tom to travel to Italy to convince his son, Dickey, to come home. He pays all of Tom’s expenses for the trip including an allowance. Only, Dickey has no intentions of ever coming home. Realizing he has failed, he can longer be of use to Mr. Greenleaf and the money will soon dry up, Tom decides he needs a new angle – to steal Dickey’s identity. Tom is a strangely likeable character. Told from his point of view, you can’t help but root for him. He’s not a psychopath because he has the ability to imagine the suffering of others but he thinks nothing of killing someone if it is the only way to get out of a jam.

Quotes I took with me, “You go out of your way not to hurt people who’re in love with you, you know” (p 229), “If you wanted to be cheerful, or melancholic, or wistful, or thoughtful, or courteous, you simply had to act those things with every gesture” (p 321).
Reason read: October is National Crime Prevention month.

Book trivia: As mentioned before, The Talented Mr. Ripley has been made into a movie twice – once in 1960 & again in 1999.

Author fact: Patricia Highsmith was born an American but writes about Italy as if she lived there all her life. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of Venice.

BookLust Twist: The Talented Mr. Ripley is in a True Crime compilation I am reading for the challenge. From Book Lust in the chapter called “Les Crimes Noir” (p 65).

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