The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith,

Book cover of The Talented Mr. Ripley

Book description

It's here, in the first volume of Patricia Highsmith's five-book Ripley series, that we are introduced to the suave Tom Ripley, a young striver seeking to leave behind his past as an orphan bullied for being a "sissy." Newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan, Ripley meets a wealthy…

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Why read it?

18 authors picked The Talented Mr. Ripley as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A Classic. I have read it three times. I would read it a fourth time. It's a beautifully crafted book. The writing is masterful. As a writer, I can’t get enough.

Set in the most beautiful places in Italy. This book transports you to another time. It’s a delicious read. If you have not read it, you must. If you have read it,  you must reread it; like a fine wine, it only becomes better. 

My brief career as a mystery writer happened to coincide with my son’s years a preschooler. What luck!

Quietly bumping off imaginary people was the perfect complement to keeping calm with a screaming toddler. There’s a reason people read murder mysteries, and it isn’t because we can’t imagine ever wanting to kill someone. (My son survived.)

In this classic psychological thriller, Highsmith lets us know from the jump that her “talented” protagonist is a thief and a liar. Things go swiftly downhill from there, on their way to far worse crimes, but Highsmith’s prose and her pacing are so perfect,…

I always avoided reading Patricia Highsmith because I thought her writing would be too smart for me. Frankly, I was intimidated. I was right about the level of intelligence she employs to confidently tell a story and unravel her characters, but her writing is accessible. It’s not heavy prose—in fact, she has a light touch while building the layers of a character study.

This is a book with a lot to say about its characters, and I was dragged into their worlds and misdeeds and dreams. It was a weird sensation to root for Ripley since he’s a sociopath, but…

Fabulous writing and a very disturbing tale. Our protagonist leaves an unfulfilling stint in his life to try another in France, narrating along the way his foibles, fears, and hopes. But we don’t know his backstory or who he is, only what he decides to tell us.

At points the reader watches helplessly as the protagonist does things of a highly questionable nature. His morality is fluid, creative, and twisted. By the end I was aghast. I had heard that this book started a number of trends in mystery fiction, and now I see why.

I was immersed and fascinated…

Tom Ripley, the original sociopath upon whom many other literary characters are based, is both a sycophant and a social climber, eager to scale the heights of society at any cost, even murder.

His dubious sexual orientation coupled with his devil-may-care attitude leaves both the characters and the reader always guessing about his next move until it’s too late. I never saw the movie, but I enjoyed the book with its twists and turns in an era long before DNA, surveillance cameras, and forensics made catching criminals a lot easier.

Ripley is a chameleon and a charmer. Man or woman,…

From Angela's list on sociopaths and liars.

Obviously, I couldn’t put together a list of liars without mentioning Ripley, one of literature’s most unforgettable conmen.

Having watched the superb film version years ago, I only got around to finally reading the book after picking up Greg Sestero’s Disaster Artist (another great book about a liar) wherein he talks about how Ripley’s deception mirrors that of his creative partner Tommy Wisseau. Highsmith sets the watermark for elegant, character-driven crime novels and Ripley is arguably her best work.

While some parts of it inevitably feel a little dated (it was written in 1955), Highsmith does an incredible job of…

This suspense novel is a leader in the field of deceptive protagonists. Ripley adapts another’s persona alongside his own, but even as he plays both roles he knows that it will all have to end at some point. He is aware of what he’s doing, yet this is coupled with great self-deception: ‘I’m a good person really.’ His vulnerability is shown in his fear of being judged. At heart he is a lonely man, driven by obsession and jealousy. Ripley is a complex, well-drawn character - I’d love to see his personality profile!

The Talented Mr. Ripley is Highsmith’s masterpiece. Tom Ripley is a deeply disturbed young man who operates in the world by imitating the people around him, but is missing any sense of moral responsibility for his actions. Somehow, Highsmith makes her readers care about him and hold their breath when circumstances close in on him. I recommend this book to any reader who wants an engrossing story that leaves her thinking about the mysteries of human nature, good and evil, playing out in quiet ways. 

This is a classic psychological thriller about a social climber, complete with murder and stolen identity. There's something about Tom Ripley, who fenagles his way into the upper-crust world of Dickie Greenleaf, son of a wealthy shipping magnate. Ripley is immoral and ruthless, but also needy and sad, a complicated character who evokes sympathy even as he does terrible things. This book asks the question: What if you could take the place of a person who has everything you ever dreamed of? Would you do it? And if you did, how would you keep from getting caught? 

From Joy's list on ruthless social climbers.

I think this book perfectly executes the task of having the main protagonist be somewhat a dubious and mildly despicable character yet intriguing and charming enough to make the reader want to stick with him. There’s a good reason the book spawned several sequels and a few film adaptations. Tom Ripley is quite the con artist and murderer, able to elude being captured numerous times. In this first book of the series, we get a fair understanding of what drives him and what may have made him the way he is. 

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