This is another book I thought I might have spoiled for myself by seeing the film – at least twice – but (despite enjoying the film) I couldn’t completely remember how it ended or what happened exactly so luckily that was not the case. I have a feeling that the film time I saw the film was actually long enough ago that I ended up recording the ending on vhs because it went on for a bit too long and I’d wanted to go to bed (which possibly begs the question should I have been watching it in the first place).
The talented Mr Ripley – in case you haven’t seen or can’t remember or are unaware of the film version – tells the story of Tom Ripley, who somehow gets roped in to an all expenses paid trip to Europe on behalf of Mr Greenleaf in order to retrieve his son Dickie: despite never having met him before, thanks to some mutual friends (more acquaintances in Tom’s case) the rather desperate Mr Greenleaf is under the impression that Tom may have some influence over his son, while in reality he barely knows him. Tom, however, is not the honest, benevolent young man Mr Greenleaf believes him to be; previously he was running as unsuccessful scam as a faux tax collector – unsuccessful in that none of his victims had yet been stupid enough to sign the cheques directly to the false name he was using. His mission to Europe seems equally hopeless at first, until he changes his objective to instead befriending Dickie and infiltrating his world. When Dickie begins to tire of Tom he changes his objective again, this time intending to become Dickie.
Tom is not an especially likeable character, nor is he an eloquent Humbert Humbert type of criminal, as such I was equally interested in him getting caught or remaining on the lose as the novel went on – although realised at the end that I was strangely rooting for him. I would recommend this even if you can remember the film as there are differences – I seem to remember the film Marge (played by – I think – Gwyneth Paltro) is much more attractive and likeable than the book Marge – although of course Tom’s dislike of her may be responsible for his unflattering descriptions of her. It was also quite nice to read this in italy – where I am now – although they didn’t really spend time in the places I’m going (but it’s doubtful I’d frequent any of the same hotels or restaurants that they do mention).