The Crooked Bookies discussion

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1)
This topic is about The Talented Mr. Ripley
26 views
Talented Mr. Ripley discussion > The Talented Mr. Ripley discussion

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jenn (last edited May 23, 2017 08:35PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Wendy's selection for June is The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Please discuss here.


Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Can't believe I don't already have it on my to-read list considering it sounds great and I've heard of the title before. I'm in as soon as I can get a copy from the library!


message 3: by Jenn (last edited May 24, 2017 09:44PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I can't believe my library doesn't have this! It's listed in the system, but copies aren't orderable, which means they're all lost or unavailable.

Oh, well. This is the first book I've ever had to purchase for this group, so it's all good.


Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments I went to buy this book at B&N and one of the employees was so happy that I was going to read this book. "May I ask why are you reading this book?" "It's the book of the month for my bookclub" she says "omg you're going to love this book" lol.

So, I am excited to start this book tonight.


Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I love it when bookstore people know their stuff. I've worked in two bookstores and a library where a shockingly high number of my co-workers weren't avid or even casual readers.


Wendopolis | 77 comments How can you work with books and not read?!?! I work with someone like that, too


message 7: by Jenn (last edited Jun 07, 2017 09:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Yeah, I don't get it either. I have some ideas:
Those employees were good at their jobs. They knew what the popular titles were and what they were about. I guess that's all that really matters. Employees who aren't enthusiastic about books may even be desirable from a business standpoint: employees who know the basics of all the books but who won't stand around having on-the-clock book discussions with other employees will get more done, maybe. (As you can tell, I've spend a fair amount of time wondering why the hell people who aren't book lovers get hired at places where a thousand book lovers would kill to work.)


message 8: by Michelle (last edited Jun 11, 2017 05:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments 3.5 to a 4.

It was very good! I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bored at some points, but it was overall a very strong story.

**SPOILERS BELOW**
After ready 20 or so pages, I was unsure of whether or not Tom Ripley was even capable of committing multiple murders and getting away with it, because he came across as very aloof and absent-minded, perhaps the type to forget details or leave out important information. However, the rest of the novel quickly changed my opinion. I think what this book does well is it really focuses on how Ripley's logic and thinking work, and presenting to us how he personally views each situation.

He's very meticulous about the details, and he's constantly inventing new narratives that throw people off from suspecting him. It's quite artful, really. I particularly liked how he kept anticipating confrontations and accusations, and how he's always ready with an excuse - he'll rehearse the story in his head, etc. It's actually amazing to read through.

I was a bit skeptical about his impersonating Dickie. It isn't implausible, but I kept anticipating that he'll get caught, especially by the people who've interacted with the real Dickie before. But since it's explained that they look similarly enough, I accepted it.

I don't know if we were supposed to be rooting for Ripley to get away clean or what, but I really wanted the other characters to unravel him. While I find him fascinating (and indeed talented), I don't particularly like him. He's a villain even if he's a protagonist, and I'd have no problem if the ending came about differently.

Speaking of which... I conceded that people could've been fooled by Tom into thinking that he's Dickie, but that's only believable (aside from the people who have never met the latter) if neither party had seen each other in a while. The police that came to interrogate both Tom disguised as Dickie and Tom when he's being himself again and do not suspect a thing is tougher to swallow, especially since they are who they are - aren't police supposed to good at detecting deceptions and studying the details?

I kept waiting for Marge to put the pieces together and start becoming suspicious, but she never does, and instead swallows Tom's every word. Same with Mr. Greenleaf. I'd at least be apprehensive about Tom if it were me - after all Tom is allegedly the person who had last seen him & who he has spent the most time with.

I also find it a bit hard to believe that no one ever really suspects Tom outright. I mean, sure, he's come up with reasons for why he couldn't be responsible for the Miles death and the possible murder of Dickie at every turn, but at this point, everyone is just taking his word for it. I think, really, my main problem with this is how easily Tom is able to become Dickie Greenleaf.

I appreciated all the Italian that kept coming up. Even if I don't understand it 100%, it added to the atmosphere.

I wasn't aware that there was a movie adaptation until a quarter of the way through. Since I've heard the title many times before, I though maybe there was a movie in addition to the book. Sure enough, there was. I watched a few clips of it online and was awed at great it was - from the production to the script to the actors. I definitely have to watch it in its entirety some time.

Edit: I forgot to mention the bit about Tom's sexuality. I guess part of what really pushed Tom to the edge of wanting to harm Dickie was Dickie's rebuff of him, since he claims to love Marge and all. I guess Tom was dejected that there was no actual possibility of them being exclusive to each other. That, coupled with the general feeling of rejection, I think, really broke him. Becoming Dickie was exciting, too.... his life probably just seems grander and more important to Tom.


Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I'm still reading the book, so I haven't read your post yet, Michelle. Can't wait to, though. I'm enjoying Talented Mr. Ripley and looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts on it.


Julie Place | 87 comments I thought this book was better than I thought it was going to be. I haven't seen the movie so I had no idea what was going to happen... I didn't even read the synopsis so when the first murder happened I was taken by surprise. This book was unpredictable for me which I loved!! I just don't understand how he got away with everything?!?! Yes he was smart but he made slip ups and even he knew it... how did no one suspect anything?? And I'm pretty sure his attitude about killing is a sign of a serial killer like it was just something that needed to be done. I wouldn't be surprised if the book had continued that he would've killed again for his benefit. I look forward to seeing the movie now... great choice for a book club book!


Miguel (miggy126) | 74 comments This book was awesome! I also didn't know that they made a movie out of this book until a coworker saw me reading it. I kept picturing Matt Damon in my head playing out these scenes. Have always been a fan of Matt Damon, especially in Goodwill Hunting.

Anyway, back to the book. It was a fun read. As I commented to Michelle in a previous post of mine, I thought it started off kind of slow. I also didn't read the synopsis of the book so I was walking blind. Tom first struck me as odd when he accepted going to Europe for someone he barely even knew. However, if all expenses are paid for then maybe that is something you say yes to.

The first murder caught me off guard. I didn't think he had it in him. He read people pretty well and was pretty observant but to murder someone? No way! I know that has nothing to do with being a murderer but I didn't get much from him early to assume that he could murder someone. Dickie seemed liked a cool guy who welcomed pretty much a stranger to live in his home.

I read both of your reviews Michelle and Julie. It looks like both agree that Tom got away with too much. Nobody really suspected him and took his word for pretty much everything. Nobody ever questioned him hard on his gatherings with Dickie after the boat ride.

I also found it hard to believe that someone could impersonate someone without drawing some attention. I believe someone (forgot who) looked at Dickie's passport as Tom was pretending to be him but didn't say anything. How is this possible?

Tom seemed to enjoy being part of the investigation. As much as he said it bothered him to not read or hear anything of the case made him feel uneasy. It was almost like Tom's norm was to feel uneasy. His final trip to Greece reminded me of something my gf told me she learned at nursing school in regards to mentally disabled patients in pysch wards.

They tell nurses to be wary of patients who have a history of depression and suicide attempts that suddenly become very content and happy with themselves. This is usually a sign of a coming suicide because the patient is happy that they have a "way out". Tom speaking to the elderly woman on board and spending time with her reminded me of that. His constant thoughts of getting caught when they arrived in Greece. I felt the normal Tom would've been annoyed with the elderly woman.

Anyway, this review was all over the place lol but this book was good. I plan on watching the movie soon as well.


message 12: by Michelle (last edited Jun 21, 2017 07:39PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments [spoilers]

I also thought it was a bit slow in the beginning, and I also didn't think that Tom could pull off a murder and get away with it. However, reading deeper into the story and into the character convinced me he was perfectly capable of it...

He did get away too easily, and I had to suspend my belief about everyone else not connecting the dots and not looking closely enough at the details. Other than that, it was an enjoyable read. I would recommend it to people looking for a psychological thriller, or just a thriller in general.


Wendopolis | 77 comments Finally finished this. Having seen the film first, I had trouble getting through, especially since the movie climax was quite different than that book. I'm not really sure the book had a climatic moment...

Of course I couldn't help comparing book to film, and I did find the book lacking as regards to character development and plot. There really seemed no point to the book, because Tom Ripley never gets caught or even comes near to getting found out. It was disappointing that Marge didn't suspect Tom and that the interaction between Tom and Freddie was so short. (Watch the film and you may agree.)

Dickie didn't come across as this really great, charismatic guy that he apparently was supposed to be, but Tom Ripley was pretty well-drawn. I didn't find him a particularly compelling character and pretty much wanted him to be found out. I think that would have made for a better book. I don't think I'll seek out the other books in this series.

Still, I give it 3.5-4.0 stars. The film was much better.


Julie Place | 87 comments How often do avid readers say "the movie was better" I can only think of one for myself right now and that was A Walk To Remember...


Wendopolis | 77 comments It is an odd occurrence! I've not read a Walk to Remember but I liked the movie.....


message 16: by Jenn (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
I enjoyed this book. It was a little hard to get into, but the ending surprised me, and I had fun playing Name That Disorder with Tom's Ripley's character. I'm not sure he's a sociopath, like the back of the book says. He feels guilt at times, and sociopaths don't. He seems more like a narcissist, in love with himself, overly confident in his abilities because he's convinced he's extraordinary, and desperate to have a meaningful connection with others but ultimately unable to because his protective walls, erected when he was young to shield himself from his aunt's abuse, are too high to let anyone in.

I like that issues of homosexuality and asexuality play a fairly substantial role in this book. I'm a little annoyed that Tom Ripley, "sexually deviant," as he would have been considered in the 1950s when this book was published, is given the role of a villain, but I guess any portrayal of a gay person is better than none. Author Patricia Highsmith was bisexual, according to my research, so I doubt she set out to malign gay people.

Definitely a good book. Based on your comments, I'm glad I saved the movie for last. Thanks for recommending it, Wendy!


message 17: by Jenn (last edited Jun 30, 2017 11:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jenn | 223 comments Mod
Okay, just put the kids to bed and am back reading your comments.

Michelle, I love your thoughts on this book. I also thought that Ripley got away with it all a little too easily, and I appreciated that some of the dialogue was in Italian. It did add to the atmosphere.

"I also find it a bit hard to believe that no one ever really suspects Tom outright. I mean, sure, he's come up with reasons for why he couldn't be responsible for the Miles death and the possible murder of Dickie at every turn, but at this point, everyone is just taking his word for it."

I think they didn't suspect him outright because he was an American. My feeling, reading this book, is that Americans in Europe at this time were like rich people--privileged, untouchable. The police would watch their step.

"Edit: I forgot to mention the bit about Tom's sexuality. I guess part of what really pushed Tom to the edge of wanting to harm Dickie was Dickie's rebuff of him, since he claims to love Marge and all."

I forgot to mention that scene too. That scene where Dickie walks in on Tom wearing his clothes? It could have been such a humdrum scene (I mean, a guy is wearing someone else's clothes. Big deal, right?), but instead it was so incredibly uncomfortable. I felt deeply embarrassed on Tom's behalf, reading that scene. What a talented writer Highsmith was to instill such a nothing scene with such tension.




Julie--
I wouldn't be surprised if Tom had killed prior to this story. He's just so relatively unphased by it all. When he kills what's-his-face---the guy with red hair?--it's just so easily accomplished. Obviously he had killed before that, but it makes me wonder if he had killed *many* times before that.



Miguel--

Thanks for your thoughtful comments.

"The first murder caught me off guard. I didn't think he had it in him. He read people pretty well and was pretty observant but to murder someone? No way! I know that has nothing to do with being a murderer but I didn't get much from him early to assume that he could murder someone."

I went into the book knowing Tom would murder Dickie, so I was looking for signs of sociopathy early on. The part where he pretends to be the IRS jumped out at me. But was that behavior weird enough to be indicative of a killer? Not necessarily. Other than that, there wasn't much to indicate who Tom Ripley really was. I don't think I would have seen Dickie's murder coming either.

"I also found it hard to believe that someone could impersonate someone without drawing some attention. I believe someone (forgot who) looked at Dickie's passport as Tom was pretending to be him but didn't say anything. How is this possible?"

That scene reminded me strongly of a few scenes in American Psycho, another book about a serial killer. In that book, the murderer gets away with it because it's trendy for everyone to look like a carbon copy of each other, and people keep telling the police that they see the murderer's victims around (when actually they're dead). I don't know if Highsmith was aiming for similar social commentary here--I don't think she was--, but that's what this scene reminded me of.

"Tom seemed to enjoy being part of the investigation. As much as he said it bothered him to not read or hear anything of the case made him feel uneasy. It was almost like Tom's norm was to feel uneasy."

I completely agree.


Wendy--
I was disappointed Marge kept not catching on as well. I kept thinking things like, "Marge is a professional writer. She'll know right away that these letters aren't Dickie's writing style!" but she kept letting me down.

I don't know how I feel about the ending. On one hand, I totally did not see it coming. Which I like. On the other hand, I wanted Tom to be caught so badly. The back of my copy has a quote from reviewer Frank Rich, who writes that Highsmith "[keeps] us on [Tom's] side well after his behavior becomes far more sociopathic than that of a con man like Gasby." If most readers feel the way Frank Rich does, then I guess a lot of readers enjoyed seeing Ripley get away with it, but I didn't. Though I enjoyed seeing things from Ripley's perspective, I was never on his side. I was rooting for him to get caught from the IRS stunt on.


Michelle (artemitch) | 96 comments Hi Jenn, thanks for replying!

I guess what you said about him being American makes sense, though I can still fault the American detective for letting things slide and not catching all the clues (though honestly, Tom is pretty good at keeping things blurry).

I'm very disappointed that Marge had not a single clue about Tom. I thought she would try to take things into her own hands and try to figure who the murderer was, but she doesn't really do that. I think I like how Marge was in the movie better. *spoiler* In it, she actually suspects that it's Tom and accuses him in front of the American detective and everything. There was a scene between her and Tom that I really liked, where he's planning to kill her with a razor hidden in his pocket and Marge is slowly and frighteningly backing up against the wall until Peter (not in the book) interrupts both the scene and Tom's intent to kill Marge. The acting in it was amazing, and that scene was the one that catalyzed my desire to go see the movie.


back to top