Since his debut in 1955, Tom Ripley has evolved into the ultimate bad boy sociopath, influencing countless novelists and filmmakers.
In this first novel, we are introduced to 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 he 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—immortalized in the 1998 film starring Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gywneth Paltrow—is an unforgettable introduction to this debonair confidence man, whose talent for self-invention and calculated murder is chronicled in four subsequent novels.
I saw the film when it came out about 15 years ago, but had not realized that the book was the first of a series until Audible advertised it that way. I bought the first and am so happy that I did. Patricia Highsmith's prose is flawless, her storytelling and character development without peer. The narrator, Kevin Kenerly, does a remarkable job, even elegantly mispronouncing the words that Tom mispronounces in his head. His voice is fluid, naive and arrogant - all perfect for this genteel madman. I'm definitely going to continue with the series. Highsmith had an astonishing gift for accurate portrayal of a sociopath, even while psychiatry was struggling with a medical definition. The book is so classic, as it exists within our lives of motorcars and airplanes and telephones, and yet so far removed. Could Tom Ripley have gotten away with anything had there been computers, DNA, Interpol? Fax machines? Video cameras? Cell phones? I'm so pleased that Audible is including such classics in its library.
29 of 32 people found this review helpful
Highsmith is amazing. She alludes to Henry James, plays with a Nabokovian style, throws in James Cain's dialogue, and blends it all with a Camus-like modern existentialism. Face it, pretenders, The Talented Mr. Ripley is an amazing psychological crime novel. This is one of those books which should be used as evidence to highlight the case that some of the best literature of the 20th Century came out of genre fiction. The novel is high-wire, high-risk, high-reward masterpiece. It leaves me amazed the Cure didn't just write their existential anthem to Highsmith:
I can turn
And swim away
Or I can raise up my oar
Staring at a boat
Staring far ashore
Whichever I chose
It amounts to the same
I'm lying Tom Ripley
Killing a Signor.
33 of 37 people found this review helpful
I have read several of Patricia Highsmith's books before, though this is the first audiobook of her work that I have listened too. She is wonderful at writing psychologically creepy thrillers, and that is relayed nicely in this production. What I had not gotten from the movie version was how much Tom Ripley was a dreamer. Yes, he was a sociopath, but he was also a rampant dreamer who created elaborate scenarios in his mind of what his life could be like, "if only......." Sort of like a sociopathic Walter Mitty. His lies were all about making his life easy, but he never knew how he would do that until the opportunity presented itself. When it did, though, he showed no hesitation, conscience, or guilt about what he had to do, and was a practiced and skilled liar.
The narration might be considered too slow for some, but I thought it created the slightly creepy and sly sort of environment that fit Highsmith's style of writing and characterizations.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Well, Dr. Phil just wrote a book based on his belief that it's time we all knew *how the world really works* and how to become *street savvy;* claiming that he is offering a rare glimpse inside the mind of the "bad guys"....philling Dr. Phil's pockets with more cha-ching is fine, but Highsmith outlined exactly what you look out for over 25 yrs. ago, giving us much more than just a glimpse into the mind of one of the baddest. -- and he is the talented and sociopathic Mr. Ripley.
Highsmith's Ripley is like a textbook study of a blooming sociopath/psychopath--along with the personal narration of the processes taking place, and that's what makes this so wonderfully chilling and entertaining. Imagine a film of Ted Bundy's crimes with a lucid Bundy narrating the thought processes going on; fascinating. I worked with more than a couple of budding Mr. Ripleys in my former profession and Highsmith has done her research. True, the story might have a few moments that require you suspend belief, and it may be considered slow by some, but the action is the smooth unfurling of the petals on our psycho flower. (And this guy puts an extra *o* in the word smooth.) I'm tempted to continue on with the 5 series *Ripliad* just to shake my head and see "how's that working for you Mr. Ripley?"
40 of 49 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I would not recommend this book, I thought it was boring and I had to force myself to finish hoping for a good ending.
If you’ve listened to books by Patricia Highsmith before, how does this one compare?
This is my first Highsmith book, I have bought the 2nd Ripley but it will be awhile before I try it, if I do at all.
Which character – as performed by Kevin Kenerly – was your favorite?
The narrator did a good job. Ripley was the primary character, no other characters really stood out to me.
Was The Talented Mr. Ripley worth the listening time?
No..in fact I interrupted listening to listen to a trilogy and a repeat of one I had already listened to.
Any additional comments?
I must have missed something because of all the rave reviews...I was disappointed.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Having seen the movie years ago, there was no surprise for me as to the outcome of the story. What made this a good listen was the view into the mind of a narcissistic sociopath. He is the ultimate unreliable narrator because he manages to convince himself that the world has become what he imagines it to be, and then through his "talented" acting, succeeds in convincing others as well. Is the apparent shallowness of the other characters real, making them susceptible to his manipulations, or is the shallowness merely Ripley's perception that convinces him that they deserve his disdain?
The first 2/3's of the book are the best, as that is where the actions of the story take place. The last 1/3 drags just a bit as the cat-and-mouse becomes redundant, and living exclusively inside Ripley's head gets a bit claustrophobic. That may actually be the point, but after a while, for me it became somewhat tiresome. Unlike some other reviewers, in spite of finding him psychologically facinating (like watching a car wreck), I did not find myself rooting for Ripley. I enjoyed this outing, but I'm not sure I want to continue in the series, as I suspect subsequent entries will likely be new verses of the same song, and I don't like Tom Ripley well enough to want to make him a regular companion. Well narrated by Kenerly who succeeded in giving Ripley the required furtive, paranoid internal voice, alongside the more open and naive public facade.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful
Patricia Highsmith does an amazing job of developing complex characters in beautifully described settings. She keeps a taut thread of tension throughout the entire novel. She does such a good job of "seeing" through the protagonists eyes that I did not realize the author was not a man until I was almost finished with the book!
The narration was spot on. There is very little graphic violence, no sex and no foul language. I was sorry when this story ended. I highly recommend this book, it is my favorite listen so far!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The narrator was absolutely perfect. His tone and inflection set the mood at every turn exactly. The tension and anxiety as the story progresses is almost palpable and you can hear it in his voice, feel what Tom Ripley feels. I made the mistake of listening to this book in my car each day and getting so caught up in the story that I actually felt nervous when a police car passed me!
This is a look at a man with zero compassion or concern for anyone other than himself and his own desires. A look at the interior thoughts and machinations of a selfish, narcissistic, lazy young man who wants the easy, carefree life style of the sons of wealth around him. He spends his days mooching off the rich social set, over staying his welcome & over stepping until they run him off. Greed and humiliation compel him finally, to murder and assume the identity of these young, rich playboys.
I loved the mid 1950s setting and view of Italy. The descriptions are gorgeous and the writing quite simply sweeps you away to another time and slower, gentler place. The movie with Matt Damon is a mere sample of the story when compared to the book. I will add the sequel to my to be purchased list.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Any additional comments?
This was an interesting book and of the genre that doesn't normally attract me. However, it passed the simplest true test for me - it made me look forward to listening more and more.
Although narrated in the third person, it is told as if the author is just over the shoulder of Tom Ripley. It is a subtle seduction where the reader/listener, observing this character soon gets the notion that something isn't quite right with this guy. He engages in some bizarre behavior, that at first might seem to be harmless mischief, but hints at some deeper psychosis. Before long, we are given glimpses into Ripley's thought processes, and any doubts about his sanity are erased.
Tom Ripley travels to Europe at the request of the wealthy father of one of his
7 of 9 people found this review helpful
What did you like best about The Talented Mr. Ripley? What did you like least?
The narration was excellent, and kept me involved in this rather dated story. It is very much a piece of its time. Well written but slow paced. It was interesting to compare to the movie version and it was one of the rare instances where the movie was better (IMHO)
6 of 8 people found this review helpful