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The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1)
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Group Reads > January 2018 - The Talented Mr. Ripley

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message 1: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
We'll be spending the first month of the new year with a talented conman - Tom Ripley. Created by Patricia Highsmith in 1955, her character Ripley was featured in four more novels. The last book in the series was published in 1991.

Highsmith's book was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best novel, and in 1957, the novel won the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière as best international crime novel.

Happy New Year to you all!


Frank Thirdeyed | 88 comments Happy new year!

I have this one on my shelves, so I will definitely be reading it this month.


Franky | 395 comments I read this a few years ago, but will read again for this month. I need to find it at the library.


message 4: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments I have a box set of all the Ripley books.

The Complete Ripley Novels by Patricia Highsmith

Pity, because I hardly read d.t. books.
Actually, this club is a little motivation.


message 5: by Melki, Femme Fatale (last edited Jan 02, 2018 03:24PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
I found this one included in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s, a fantastic looking collection that features three other titles I'd like to read. Though I wasn't a big fan of Strangers on a Train, I plan to give Ripley a try.


Sara (saraelizabeth11) | 45 comments Melki wrote: "I found this one included in Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s, a fantastic looking collection that features three other titles I'd like to read."

Same edition that I got from the library here ~ the one I read Thompson's The Killer Inside Me out of just back in November. Happy to check it out again; yes, great collection.


Lawrence | 186 comments Reading this has always been on my to-do list. Now underway...


message 8: by Algernon (Darth Anyan), Hard-Boiled (new) - rated it 3 stars

Algernon (Darth Anyan) | 541 comments Mod
I've read this relatively recently so even if I'm not ready to start it again, I am looking forward to the discussion.
Happy New Year, fellow crime investigators.


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments I've just started this (I got the audiobook) and bloody hell, I am loving the first four chapters! Didn't think it would do it for me, but the tension that Highsmith creates in every scene as Tom spins his webs of deceit - it's amazing. I love how the dichotomy of character is established so early with Tom's arrogance and desire for approval combine.


message 10: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments It’s next on my TBR pile so will be taking part in this month’s discussion. Will look forward to seeing everybody on the other side!


Franky | 395 comments I notice even in the first page you can feel Tom's paranoia and apprehension at this apparent meeting with the elder Greenleaf. Definitely a sign of things to come.


RJ - Slayer of Trolls (hawk5391yahoocom) | 314 comments I started this one - I'm only two chapters in but I enjoy it already.


Lawrence | 186 comments I remember seeing the movie a number of years ago and it was good, but I had wished I’d read the book first. Isn’t the book always better than the movie? I’m only up to Chapter 8 and it is superb. Each devious thought of Ripley heightens the anticipation of the next.


message 14: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
Lawgotham wrote: "I remember seeing the movie a number of years ago and it was good, but I had wished I’d read the book first. Isn’t the book always better than the movie? I’m only up to Chapter 8 and it is superb. ..."

The book has actually served as the source for two movies - 1960's Purple Noon - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_... (CAUTION: this write up includes a spoiler as to the book's ending!) and the 1999 version which starred Howdy Doody Matt Damon.

I've seen the latter picture, and remember being pleasantly surprised by Damon's performance, though I think he ought to stick to growing potatoes on Mars.

Both films are available through Netflix, though NOT on the streaming service.


Franky | 395 comments Melki wrote: "Lawgotham wrote: "I remember seeing the movie a number of years ago and it was good, but I had wished I’d read the book first. Isn’t the book always better than the movie? I’m only up to Chapter 8 ..."

I've seen both films and 1999 version is pretty accurate to the book from what I remember. I thought Purple Noon was pretty weak.

Howdy Doody..lol....


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments Loved the bit about the paintings with little pictures in the eyes. ;)

I liked the Matt Damon film too, but the book is so much more characterful.

Early days but it's heading for five stars so far.


message 17: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 263 comments As I remember, in the first (French, 1960) film, Marge was presented as a ideal love object, sort of like a medieval maiden surrounded, when we first saw her, by lush flowers in an ethereal setting. In the 1999 one, she (G Paltrow) was deeply suspicious of Ripley, and grew to hate him as the murderer he was.

The title of the first, "Full Sunlight" in English, is a great one. The film is illuminated by natural beauty, as opposed to what is happening inside Tom. It's a noir travelogue. The ending is a stunner.


message 18: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments I never saw the 1999 movie, but it was apparently the direct inspiration for The Room.

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made


message 19: by Frank (last edited Jan 06, 2018 03:55PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Frank Thirdeyed | 88 comments I can see Greg Sestero being a better version of Matt Damon. :D

Nah I'm sorry, don't have anything against Damon. But he's often acting out of his range: like, the Bourne films are perfectly suitable and Kevin Smith movies also. I had my doubts on Gerry or the Informant, though, You know what I mean, it's like Keanu Reeves starring in an Ingmar Bergman :D (why didn't that happen? haha )


message 20: by Christopher (new) - added it

Christopher (Donut) | 166 comments The first quote is a complete spoiler. It is basically all I know about the book so far:
(view spoiler)

Then, this is Tommy Wisseau, after seeing the Mr. Ripley movie:

We returned to the apartment. Tommy drew his curtains and sat down at his desk. He was rubbing his forehead, his eyes as intensely focused as a laser beam. I started to head off to my bedroom but Tommy asked me to stay and talk with him some more. He ran his hands through his hair and slouched over and didn’t say anything for a long time. Then he sat up.

“You know what? F--- it, man. I will write my own play. I’ll do my own project and it will be better than everybody else. You think this movie we just saw was tragedy? No. Not even close. I will make tragedy. People will see my project and . . . you know what? They will not sleep for two weeks. They will be completely shocked. You watch.”

And this, of course, is the icing on the cake:

“I play the best friend?” I asked, still mostly humoring him, never imagining that this scheme would last into the morning.

“I know the name of your character now,” Tommy said, looking at me. “You will be called Mark—like this guy Mark Damon.”

(sorry this is so off topic...)


message 21: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments Good grief, The Room is a truly awful film, but I enjoyed The Disaster Artist immensely. If you ask me, Matt Damon’s best performances are on Jimmy Kimmel.

I’m halfway through Ripley and enjoying it. I like how much more frumpy the book Marge is compared to the Paltrow version, but am struggling not to picture Freddy as Philip Seymour Hoffman or Ripley as (whisper it) Matt Damon. Love the book as a snapshot of a generation caught halfway between Fitzgerald / Hemingway and Kerouac / Ginsberg though. Kind of like the Lost Beats.


message 22: by Franky (last edited Jan 07, 2018 07:16PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Franky | 395 comments Christopher wrote: "The first quote is a complete spoiler. It is basically all I know about the book so far:

Murder becomes the foundation of the life he makes for himself, the life he refuses to let go of. Tom’s bro..."


That seems like a fun book. I'll have to check that one out. I sorta have a morbid fascination with "so bad their good movies." I guess they are like a guilty pleasure song you hear on the radio that you don't know want anyone to know that you like.

Who would have thought that the 1999 film of The Talented Mr. Ripley would have been inspiration for The Room. I still need to see it to complete another bad movie on my list.

From what I remember, Purple Noon was visually pretty and stuff, but if you compare it with the book, it was like apples and oranges.

I think Highsmith does a really good job of making this sorta an uncomfortable experience, but one where it is hard to look away. I also saw some similarities in Strangers on a Train.

Tom, I agree about seeing the characters as the ones in the film, as I saw the film years before reading book.


message 23: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
I'm not too far into the book yet, but so far it's like two Ken dolls on holiday. I got kind of a Single White Female vibe when (view spoiler)

Though I'm enjoying this one much more, I have the same complaint that I did about Strangers on a Train: how can a female writer create such bland and uninteresting female characters? No wonder no one wants to hang out with poor Marge. She's so boring!


message 24: by ALLEN (last edited Jan 09, 2018 09:21AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ALLEN | 153 comments I got the feeling from the book that I got watching the American version of the movie: Marge was moderately pretty, moderately well off, and dazzled by Dickie. (As was Tom.)

If you want a handle on a slightly less pathetic Marge, see the 1960 French version, PURPLE NOON.

It's possible that Highsmith spent more time on her male characters because statistically men do a lot more evil -- which is what a mystery or psych/suspense author needs, of course.

Did Highsmith ever create a female cold-blooded killer? I don't recall. She wrote a kind of breakthough lesbian novel, though -- THE PRICE OF SALT, which I believe is now called CAROL.

Disclaimer: This is not to imply that lesbianism or lesbians are evil, but they are more interesting. Perhaps too interesting for the Fifties, which is why SALT came out under a pseudonym, Clare Morgan.


message 25: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara (saraelizabeth11) | 45 comments Just begun...20 minutes in and already riveted! There’s something smooth, yet clipped and lively in Highsmith’s cadence that is just wonderful. 😃


ALLEN | 153 comments Sara wrote: "Just begun...20 minutes in and already riveted! There’s something smooth, yet clipped and lively in Highsmith’s cadence that is just wonderful. 😃"

Fair warning, Sara: I liked this one so well I read the whole darn "Ripliad" over the following few months. Though most people would say this is the best one.


message 27: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
I finished last night. This is going to be a tough one to discuss without spoilers.


message 28: by ALLEN (last edited Jan 11, 2018 04:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ALLEN | 153 comments So true, Melki! Also, I think lots of folks have seen the US movie adaptation with Matt Damon,Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow; and not a few have seen the first screen adaptation, PURPLE NOON (1960, France) with Alain Delon.

Is there some way GR will let us hold a "spoiler-rich" discussion with prior warning, "fair warning" as it were?


Lawrence | 186 comments I'm three quarters of the way through. Keeping in mind I saw the movie only when it came out (late nineties?), I find I picture the lead characters as in the movie, (Law, Paltrow, Damon, Hoffman) but haven't felt it as a detraction.


message 30: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
ALLEN wrote: "So true, Melki! Also, I think lots of folks have seen the US movie adaptation with Matt Damon,Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow; and not a few have seen the first screen adaptation, PURPLE NOON (1960, F..."

I'm thinking after the 15th of the month, I'll announce that all comments may contain spoilers, and members who haven't read or finished the book should read at their own risk.

Does that seem fair to everyone?


ALLEN | 153 comments I think so. Maybe mention it a couple of times.


message 32: by Sara (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sara (saraelizabeth11) | 45 comments Seems fair... I'll be happy to review comments after I catch up. The 15th seems reasonable in order for those of you who are finished to have a rich & juicy conversation while it's all still fresh for you.


message 33: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments I finished it a few days ago and am more than happy to have this thread spoiler-heavy after the 15th. I’m kind of hanging back on making comments until others post anyway.


ALLEN | 153 comments Counting the days!


message 35: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
The crowd has spoken.

We shall let 'er rip on Monday.


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments Melki wrote: "I'm not too far into the book yet, but so far it's like two Ken dolls on holiday. I got kind of a Single White Female vibe when [spoilers removed]

Though I'm enjoying this one much ..."


I can see what you mean about Marce. I think that Marge seems boring because she is presented through Tom's point of view. We never get to hear about her actually talking about her book for example, as Tom keeps this from us.


Geoff Smith (oncewewerefiction) | 67 comments I'm about 3/4 through now, and I'm still liking it but not loving it as much as I was. I'm finding it a bit repetitious as Tom lies and lies and retells his lies. I really like how Highsmith deals with Tom's sexuality.


message 38: by Jay (last edited Jan 14, 2018 06:44PM) (new)

Jay Gertzman | 263 comments Ripley is an example of American self fashioning, in its most malicious form. Today, such commercials as "Priceless, you deserve it" are examples. There's pure egotism and escapism behind what Tom does. He hates himself, thinks people are sneering at his cheap clothes and "success." He weeps after Dickie dies b/c, before he concocts his plan, he thinks he will never be able to take his suits if they have Dickie's initials. `

What you are is unimportant. It's how you act in public that means everything. Tom is the perfect actor. There's no moral center, so he can observe objectively that Dickie's father can help Tom out as a way of not having to feel guilt at his part in who his son was.

His only real problem is Marge, b/c Tom cannot fathom love. Marge is an unknown quantity. As for Freddie Miles, he is a victim of his own dirty mind (it's Tom that has the ultimate dirty mind). He gets bored easily with people, b/c he can never share anything with them.

We have a ugly example of megalomania in high office now--Dickie is another example of this character trait. It's as common as high-end consumerism can make it.


message 39: by Patrick (new)

Patrick Jay wrote: "Ripley is an example of American self fashioning, in its most malicious form. Today, such commercials as "Priceless, you deserve it" are examples. There's pure egotism and escapism behind what Tom ..."

Simply an excellent comment and analysis.


message 40: by Jay (new)

Jay Gertzman | 263 comments Thank you, Patrick.


message 41: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD

Just a note - as of today, all comments may contain spoilers .

If you haven't yet finished the book, or are planning to read it soon, STOP READING COMMENTS NOW!


ALLEN | 153 comments Overall, I'm wondering, is RIPLEY more about sex or about class?


message 43: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments I would argue class instead of sex, there’s little sexual tension in the novel except Dickie and Marge’s almost Platonic romance, and Ripley’s own repressed fascination of Dickie himself. He reminds me a little of Nick Carraway in Gatsby—an isolated observer of the wealth and frivolity around him. As a statement of class, this book seems concerned with the difference between the haves and the have nots.


ALLEN | 153 comments Yes, but complicated by those who would fain "pass." Nick Carraway never pretended to have anything other than a modest day job and house -- he was no Gatsby.


Lawrence | 186 comments I agree that it’s more about class than sex. I think his general aloofness speaks to this.


message 46: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom Steer | 36 comments Difficult to imagine Carraway murdering someone with an oar! I enjoyed watching Tom burrowing himself into the guise of Dickie over the second half, and the way he spent the trust fund I thought was more restrained and “classical” than how Dickie spent his own time and money. I liked the contrast between the two, with Tom more traditional and Dickie more modern.


Franky | 395 comments Tom wrote: "Difficult to imagine Carraway murdering someone with an oar! I enjoyed watching Tom burrowing himself into the guise of Dickie over the second half, and the way he spent the trust fund I thought wa..."

"Don't do it, old sport!" (wack)

I agree with the idea that Tom sort of "becomes" Dickie because he wants to live his life, and be who he is. Like almost replaces him.


Franky | 395 comments Tom's paranoia and alienation seems to intensify and he gets further and further into trying to cover his tracks, especially in the second part of the novel. I think Highsmith is very adept at creating tension.


message 49: by Melki, Femme Fatale (new) - rated it 4 stars

Melki | 834 comments Mod
Tom wrote: " I enjoyed watching Tom burrowing himself into the guise of Dickie over the second half . . . "

I liked this part, too. And, I'm remembering his horror at the thought of having to live the rest of his life as himself.

It was almost hilarious how Tom just kept pushing the envelope. I felt like screaming, "Dude, quit while you're ahead!" but he just kept seeing how far he could go. And, then he sends the phony will to Dickie's parents . . . and gets away with it!

Such chutzpah!


ALLEN | 153 comments As a side note, I liked the way Highsmith described a Manhattan gay bar early in the novel -- without actually calling it a gay bar.


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