I recently read The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, having picked it up in the New Waterstones on Byres Road in Glasgow.
I dimly recalled having seen the film but I couldn’t really remember what happened. There were a few scenes in the book that felt familiar but I’ve honestly no idea how closely the two follow each other. What I was surprised to learn was that this is the first in a series following Tom Ripley and that Highsmith also wrote Strangers on a Train.
The storey opens with Tom Ripley being paranoid that he is being followed – he thinks by the police and because of some tax fraud. That’s not the reason, it turns out that he;s being followed by the father of some acquaintance. This acquaintance has left the US to go live in Italy and his father wants him back to take over the family business, sooner rather than later because his mother is ill. He asks Ripley to go there and talk him into it and Ripley jumps at the chance.
What follows is Ripley’s rather sinister adventures in Europe. Although told from his point of view it quickly becomes clear that Ripley isn’t a good person. He has a terrifying outlook on life and on people and manages to justify to himself anything that he needs to.
It was a chilling and disconcerting but very compelling read. It’s weird to hate the “hero” of a book but the idea that the reader might be intended to empathise with him is even more worrying. Of course, just because you hate Ripley doesn’t mean the story itself is bad. I’m now pretty curious about the other novels in the series.
Originally posted here: http://unazukin210.tumblr.com/post/129977334980/book-review-the-talented-mr-ripley