Daily Archives: February 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday ~ The Talented Mr. Ripley

Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by The Housework Can Wait and Never Too Fond of Books!

Noting that book blogging often focuses on new releases, here’s how Throwback Thursday works:

  1. Pick any bookish or literary-related media (or non-media item) released more than 5 years ago.
  2. Write up a short summary of the book (include the title, author, and cover art) and an explanation of why you love it.
  3. Link up your post at The Housework Can Wait or Never Too Fond of Books.
  4. Visit as many blogs as you can, reminisce about books you loved, and discover some “new” books for your TBR list!

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

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 an unforgettable introduction to this debonair confidence man, whose talent for self-invention and calculated murder is chronicled in four subsequent novels. (via Goodreads)

What I wrote about it on Jan. 30, 2002:

…Why do I like this book so much? It’s about a total amoral putz. Usually I don’t care for fiction in which the main character is unsympathetic. But…is Tom Ripley actually unsympathetic? While he has his “oh woe is me” moments, I can kind of see where he’s coming from. He’s an intriguing character. I do have to agree with one of the blurbs on the book cover. Highsmith’s world is slightly irrational. Things happen that wouldn’t logically happen. The movie tried to make things more logical I think, and strangely that is where it went wrong. Because in the book, even Tom Ripley is honestly amazed at how things are working out for him.

I’ve read three other of Highsmith’s Ripley books and he remains one of my favorite characters in literature. The other thrill of these novels, especially the sequels, is reading in anticipation of how Tom will best the police and keep his secrets. In this, the character and these novels are a bit similar to Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter series. How does a character get away with, well, murder?

My fondness for the movie has only increased since that old LJ entry. It’s among my most re-watched movies.