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The Talented Mr. Ripley Paperback – June 17, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 332 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Ripley Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the great crime novels of the 20th century, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is a blend of the narrative subtlety of Henry James and the self-reflexive irony of Vladimir Nabokov. Like the best modernist fiction, Ripley works on two levels. First, it is the story of a young man, Tom Ripley, whose nihilistic tendencies lead him on a deadly passage across Europe. On another level, the novel is a commentary on fictionmaking and techniques of narrative persuasion. Like Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripley seduces readers into empathizing with him even as his actions defy all moral standards.

The novel begins with a play on James's The Ambassadors. Tom Ripley is chosen by the wealthy Herbert Greenleaf to retrieve Greenleaf's son, Dickie, from his overlong sojourn in Italy. Dickie, it seems, is held captive both by the Mediterranean climate and the attractions of his female companion, but Mr. Greenleaf needs him back in New York to help with the family business. With an allowance and a new purpose, Tom leaves behind his dismal city apartment to begin his career as a return escort. But Tom, too, is captivated by Italy. He is also taken with the life and looks of Dickie Greenleaf. He insinuates himself into Dickie's world and soon finds that his passion for a lifestyle of wealth and sophistication transcends moral compunction. Tom will become Dickie Greenleaf--at all costs.

Unlike many modernist experiments, The Talented Mr. Ripley is eminently readable and is driven by a gripping chase narrative that chronicles each of Tom's calculated maneuvers of self-preservation. Highsmith was in peak form with this novel, and her ability to enter the mind of a sociopath and view the world through his disturbingly amoral eyes is a model that has spawned such latter-day serial killers as Hannibal Lecter. --Patrick O'Kelley --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“The brilliance of Highsmith's conception of Tom Ripley was her ability to keep the heroic and demonic American dreamer in balance in the same protagonist―thus keeping us on his side well after his behavior becomes far more sociopathic than that of a con man like Gatsby.” (Frank Rich - New York Times Magazine)

“[Highsmith] has created a world of her own―a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger.” (Graham Greene)

“Mesmerizing... a Ripley novel is not to be safely recommended to the weak-minded or impressionable.” (Washington Post Book World)

“The most sinister and strangely alluring quintet the crime-fiction genre has ever produced.” (Mark Harris - Entertainment Weekly)

“Highsmith's subversive touch is in making the reader complicit with Ripley's cold logic.” (Daily Telegraph (UK))

“[Highsmith] forces us to re-evaluate the lines between reason and madness, normal and abnormal, while goading us into sharing her treacherous hero's point of view.” (Michiko Kakutani - New York Times)

“[Tom Ripley] is as appalling a protagonist as any mystery writer has ever created.” (Newsday)

“Savage in the way of Rabelais or Swift.” (Joyce Carol Oates - New York Review of Books)

“For eliciting the menace that lurks in familiar surroundings, there's no one like Patricia Highsmith.” (Time)

“Murder, in Patricia Highsmith's hands, is made to occur almost as casually as the bumping of a fender or a bout of food poisoning. This downplaying of the dramatic... has been much praised, as has the ordinariness of the details with which she depicts the daily lives and mental processes of her psychopaths. Both undoubtedly contribute to the domestication of crime in her fiction, thereby implicating the reader further in the sordid fantasy that is being worked out.” (Robert Towers - New York Review of Books)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (June 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780393332148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393332148
  • ASIN: 0393332144
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (332 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you like characters in fiction that get under your skin, then this anthology is for you. Under the darkened pen of Patricia Highsmith, Tom Ripley, her most memorable character of fiction, brilliantly comes to life. Growing from a poor, insecure boy, to a suave, albeit dangerous man of the world, Tom Ripley takes you along through the passages of his life, holding you as a willing hostage to the dark secrets he keeps. From the Sunny shores of Italy to the elegant French countryside, we are allowed to eavesdrop into the inner workings of a master deceiver. Rarely do we get the chance to watch a character mature as the author matures, but over the course of several decades, Ms. Highsmith, accomplished the task by writing 5 books dealing with Tom Ripley. Her three best novels of the series are presented here.
For a good old fashioned, up all night, reading marathon, you can't go far wrong with this anthology. If you enjoy the feelings of hope, excitement, dispair, fear and loss then you'll love this compilation. Having read all the Tom Ripley novels, the only dissapointment I have is that there are no more.
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By A Customer on January 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Highsmith's books--all of which feature murders--are not typical murder mysteries because Highsmith never leaves the reader in the dark as to the identity of the murderer. (The sole exception runs for only three pages in the third novel, in which Highsmith playfully leaves the reader wondering, with other characters, whether Ripley was responsible for the unnecessary demise of third-tier character.)
A mystery novel that discloses the identity of the murderer may create tension by dealing with the question whether other characters, such as a law enforcement officer or a spouse, will learn the identity of the murderer. The first book contains considerable dramatic tension of this type, but the second two contain considerably less (especially for the reader familiar with the Ripley series).
The strange appeal of these novels--especially the latter two--lies more in their overall lack of dramatic tension. In the second and third books, Ripley's easy, cultured life invites the reader to relax, perhaps brew himself or herself a cup of tea, and, above all, let his or her guard down. Never mind that the purpose of a quick trip is murder most foul; Ripley never lacks the time to pick up a tasteful gift for Heloise, his wife. Never mind that Ripley and a friend must dispose quickly of bodies; Ripley never lacks the time to prepare (true, in this instance, hastily) a sumptuous meal after the murders.
As unusual as these books are in their lack of dramatic tension, they are even more unusual in their presentation of Ripley. Many reviews describe him as amoral. He is amoral, but only if that word permits one to display some morals. In the second and third books, Ripley emerges as a person who is deeply in love with, and committed to, his wife.
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Format: Paperback
I read this novel with a great deal of interest and anticipation and I was not disappointed. What can one say about the "talented" Patricia Highsmith that has not already been said. I loved this novel and I loved the way that Highsmith, so cleverly and astutely enters into the mind and tortured psyche of what could now be considered a modern day sociopath. Even though you know Tom Ripley is bad and what he does to Dickie is wrong, you really do wish he will get away with it. Tom Ripley is the ultimate anti-hero: calculatingly cruel yet strangely vulnerable. The author does a dashing job in conveying Tom's fears, longings, desires and upsets.
Onother highlight of the novel is its fabulous settings: Southern Italy has never looked so beautiful along with Venice, Cannes, and Paris. This novel makes for an extremely exotic, fascinating read and it also works as a wonderful portrait of a figure who has strangely removed himself from others and from society. Patricia Highsmith manages to embody the spirit of Italy while at the same time writing a terrific suspense thriller.
Michael Leonard
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Format: Paperback
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.
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