The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Talented Mr. Ripley (Ripley, #1)The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A recent news item about the author, whose name I’d heard or read often, spurred me to read one of her books, namely this one, her first big hit. It’s imaginative and well-written, but a bit creepy, too. Tom Ripley is a penniless but ambitious young man in 1950’s New York. He’s always on the hustle. He works when he has to, but prefers to mooch and schmooze his way through life. He has no woman in his life beyond a domineering aunt who considers him a “sissy,” a common euphemism for gay in those days, at least compared to the less euphemistic terms like fairy and pervert that also appear in the book, mostly from Tom. Tom’s sexual preference is never fully explored and we don’t know what it may be, but he latches onto wealthy Dickie Greenleaf and insinuates himself into Dickie’s life while at the same time trying to edge out Marge, Dickie’s would-be girlfriend. All three are in a small town in Italy where Dickie has retreated to become a painter and Marge a novelist. Any more elucidation would be a spoiler. Suffice it to say the story is a fascinating psychological study of sociopathic Tom Ripley.

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