When the reader accepts the amorality of our protagonist, Tom Ripley, the novel’s flow of events is strangely natural. The object of Tom’s attention is Dickie Greenleaf, a spoiled young American. Dickie’s wealthy father hires Tom to persuade Dickie to return home from Italy. Dickie is shallow and cruel, but Tom admires his pampered lifestyle. Tom begins to emulate Dickie’s dress and customs, often taking measures uncomfortable for the reader. As the story progressed, I began to see Tom’s actions as being born of his perceived necessity, rather than of malice. I could not help but root for Tom’s success. Unlike both film versions, Highsmith’s outcome is consistent with what one expects from a Ripley enterprise. I hope the reader will continue to enjoy Ripley’s exploits in Highsmith’s subsequent novels and, as I did, continue to root for the talented Mr. Ripley.

DonnaLeeMc's rating:
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