Today, we will be reviewing The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. First published in 1955, the novel saw four more books published in the series and have had multiple movie adaptions over the years. Keep reading for our book review and why you should read this classic psychological thriller novel!
The Talented Mr. Ripley Summary
Tom Ripley is a young man in New York City that scams people to survive. He is down on his luck and fed up with his life. And on top of that, he Is afraid that the police are after him for his scams. But luckily for him, he is approached by shipping magnate Herbert Greenleaf who wants Ripley to convince his son to return home from Italy.
Ripley slightly remembers his son Dickie and lets Herbert convince him to go to Italy. The trip to Italy is funded by Herbert and Tom tells himself that he will try to actually convince Dickie to come home. The problem is that Tom and Dickie aren’t as good friends as Herbert seems to think they are.
Once Tom arrives to Italy, he meets up with Dickie and his friend Marge Sherwood. Tom tries to cries to convince Dickie to return home but gives up soon after realizing that Dickie is happy here. Instead, Tom befriends Dickie and tries to start a new life with Dickie in his new home.
Things go well at first but Dickie’s relationship with marge complicates Tom’s relationship with Dickie. Out of fear of losing his new life, Tom takes drastic measures to ensure that he can live it up in Italy. He turns to his talents of lying and scamming people to live the rest of his life in leisure. But to do so, he must do things that even he cannot come back from.
Accomplisnments and Commentary
The novel was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel in 1956 and in 1957, it won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière as best international crime novel. It also made the BBC News 100 most aspiring novels in 2019.
When reading the novel, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The protagonist Tom Ripley was interesting and clever and I enjoyed the early exploration into his past. That is how he became to be who he is today and why he is good at scams. It also showcases the decisions he makes later on the novel. We are given all the reasoning and now watch as Tom does and why he does those things.
As a New Yorker, I will say I was not pleased by the description of New York City and how it was compared to Italy. Even if it was true back then and even today, only other New Yorkers can bash New York City. All jokes aside, part of what makes this book a great read is Highsmith vivid and beautiful description of Italy. She makes a good case as to why Tom wants to travel and doesn’t want to give up his new lifestyle.
I really enjoyed this novel and can see why it made BBC’s News 100 mist aspiring novels list. Highsmith is as talented a writer there is and she easily makes you feel for Ripley even if his actions are questionable. Don’t pass up on this book because it was released in the 1950’s or else you will be missing out on an amazing book! Happy reading.