on 20 February 2012
This set represents great value for money and is a very nicely presented box-set. The 5 hardback books are good quality with decent bindings and paper. The box is also nicely finished. Price here from amazon (when I bought) was excellent (£47.64) its normally around £70 - so it can be one to watch to see if it moves down again (anything under £55 is good though!).
I wont review the books as there are loads of reviews out there on them, other than to say they are a great read and this is a lovely way to have all of them. If you, or a partner, liked one then treat yourself or them to the whole set!
Like so many I was drawn into the world of Thomas Ripley by the film but now I think the film was a silly joke compared to these top quality novels. I managed to get hold of the five books in a box together and was set up for days and days of thoroughly enjoyable immersion in the world of Tom, and later with his, quite perfect for him, wife Heloise. She, a queen of shopping and personal compromise, all out for exquisite self indulgence in creature comforts, doesn't appear in the first book or the film. Indeed having watched the film you might not imagine Tom taking a wife but truly the Ripley Matt Damon played was a calculating, gawky creature compared to the quite unique and original man Patricia Highsmith has created.
So happily the parts of the film that didn't chime with me don't appear anyway in the stories. Matt Damon is reported as saying that having read the books he wanted to go back and make the film all over again, sticking to the original plot. I can see why. Each Ripley could stand alone but for maximum enjoyment it would be best to read them in order.
Most unusual and gripping is the clever way the reader is caught up with and enfolded into Ripley's cool thought processes to the extent that his occasionally impetuous and brutal actions actually make sense and seem forgivable. You really end up wanting him to stay in one piece and survive just so he can go back to being 'himself'; a cultured 'gentleman of leisure', someone you would definitely want on your side, batting for your team. His quirky reasoning can embrace deep loyalties to the apparently darker, naughtier characters he has gathered around him, he gets enmeshed with tricksy shady deals. He has a cheery keenness to help, a warped but definite sense of his own moral standards, perhaps defined as honour amongst murderers. The only killing he comes to feel some anguish about is the first so perhaps that old saw is true that after one...
You may recognise that feeling when you have a nightmare that you have done something quite dreadful, you wake up and gradually feel relief that it was all a bad dream? Well for Tom Ripley that nightmare is true, settling as a fact of life that has to be absorbed, painted over and put away in order that he can flourish.
The fascinating and various European geographical settings add depth to the reading experience. The stories are set some while ago but do come across as fresh and contemporary. Only the use of the telephone, travel arrangements and topical points take you back a few decades. Beautiful Belle Ombre, the Ripley home in France, near enough to Paris for convenience but rural and sleepy in its urban preoccupations, becomes completely real. An oasis of domestic bliss all held together by redoubtable Mme. Annette, every home should have such a domestic goddess, eager to entertain, innocently discreet and kind, in love with the house and family she serves.
I just couldn't help willing Ripley on, crossing everything that his increasingly complicated arrangements and plans would succeed. I was so sad when it all stopped, I wanted to stay with him in Belle Ombre and enjoy the atmosphere for even longer. I was definitely left wanting more.
This is a truly tactile set of books to own with the name Ripley writ across the spines of the five volumes, a pleasure to see on the shelf, tidy and neat, attractive to look at. I am really pleased to have them altogether.