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The Talented Mr. Ripley Paperback – 5 Aug 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (5 Aug 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282877
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon 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 through a deadly passage across Europe. On another level, the novel is a commentary on fiction making and techniques of narrative persuasion. Like Humbert Humbert, Tom Ripley seduces readers to empathise 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 all 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 manoeuvres 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 Lechter.-- Patrick O'Kelley

Review

"Ripley, amoral, hedonistic and charming, is a genuinely original creation" (Daily Telegraph)

"As haunting and harrowing a study of a schizophrenic murder as paper will bear. A glittering addition to the meagre ranks of people who make books that you really can't put down" (Sunday Times)

"Precisely plotted, stylishly written and kept alert by an icy wit. Streets ahead of the conventional thriller: a cool little classic of its kind" (Evening Standard)

"An outstanding thriller which has deservedly become a classic" (Spectator)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Nov 2004
Format: Paperback
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?
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By S. Hapgood VINE VOICE on 25 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read the book before seeing the film, and as such the film didn't impress me much on first viewing, (though it has grown on me since), and I think that's largely because the book's greatness is down to its detailed understanding of Ripley's character. The film was a big glossy Hollywood number which went instead more for being a straightforward thriller, and you shouldn't really despise it for that reason, as it's a good movie. To make a film that stuck more religiously to the book though you would have to make it a much more offbeat, perhaps low-budget, affair.
The characterisation of Tom Ripley in this book is faultless. You do get much more idea of him as a person, particularly in the short but effective flashbacks to his troubled childhood (which is also where you gain your sympathy for him). His journey to Europe and the tangled web that is weaved there is extremely absorbing. In the Venice scenes too you get disturbing glimpses of Ripley's horror of close physical contact with the female sex, even to the extent where he is revolted by seeing a lady guest's underwear draped over her bedroom chair. It is hardly surprising that Patricia Highsmith has drawn such a complex character study, she was infatuated with her creation, to the point that she would sign letters from both herself and Tom!
The other books in the Ripley series are well worth reading but, to my mind, don't quite match the first. A lot of Ripley's mystique disappears when he's leading his comfortable artsy-fartsy life in France, (and in "The Boy Who Followed Ripley", a very late book in the series, I felt Highsmith was a tad TOO delicate about his sexuality, although the Berlin scenes have a sort of 1970s fascination), but in this, the first, where he's a loner travelling across Europe, this is a must-read.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Aug 2005
Format: Hardcover
Brilliant - I had wanted to read this for some time and took the opportunity to do so whilst in Nice. The writing reminded me of Albert Camus with its detached air. The introduction by Grey Gowrie should not be read before the books themselves but is illuminating when you have arrived at the end. I had not read Highsmith before. She creates timeless characters who evoke a world we can all relate to but is actually not with us anymore. The pacing of the novels is wonderful. To read these in a hardback compendium was also a pleasure in that handling a well constructed book itself further enhanced the reading experience. The best £10 you will spend on a book this year.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Jun 2000
Format: Paperback
My curiosity was pricked in publicity for the Anthony Minghella movie so I decided to give the book a go. Having now read the book, I can't believe Mrs Highsmith has been such a well kept secret - a rivetting narrative that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last. Highsmith must have known what a fantastic hero she had created as she continued with several sequels but this is still the best of the Ripley series. I was drawn to Tom more than any other literary character and while the movie version doesn't flesh out Ripley given it's constraints, I still think Matt Damon pulls off a pretty good Ripley. Read this book and see what the fuss is about - it's well worth it's five stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
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?
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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