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on 11 June 2009
Following in the footsteps of Fielding and Smollett, William Thackeray attempts to relate the tale of a lovable rogue, Redmond Barry, in the picaresque style. Narrated in the first person, distinctly unlovable Barry is the classic `unreliable narrator'. Born into insignificant Irish gentry the vain, narcissistic and self-deluding Barry is forced to flee from his native Ireland at the age of fifteen after apparently killing a man in a duel. First joining the British army and then pressed into the Prussian army during the Seven Years War he fights a few battles, deserts and then travels around Europe hobnobbing with the imbecilic European aristocracy and passing his time womanising, gambling and amassing a fortune. He finally returns to Ireland, cons and marries a rich widow and becomes Barry Lyndon. His downfall, when it comes, is not only inevitable but welcome because, rumbustious fun as the novel undoubtedly is, the incessant boasting and name-dropping eventually become somewhat tiresome.
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VINE VOICEon 31 August 2011
This is an extremely entertaining and well written book in which the narrator's unreliability is skilfully and amusingly revealed as he recounts his adventures in eighteenth century Europe; the influences of which are clear in a number of later works. Thackeray himself re-employs many tropes in his later novels (the rise through society of a penniless chancer, the man-of-the-world uncle) that first turned up in the richly sardonic 'memoir' of Redmond Barry. And, more recently, the structure and tone of this novel must surely have been an influence on George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman series.

Look out also for an amusing and contemporarily relevant passage in which Thackeray denounces those who work in the City of London as 'gamesters'.
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on 29 March 2002
Like De Foe, Thackeray recorded the "autobiography" of his hero, Barry Lyndon, Irish adventurer, originally Barry Redmond, who became a chance soldier in the British and Prussian armies during the Seven Years War (1756-1763). After his adventures as a soldier and a spy, he becomes a professional gambler and faithful companion of the Chevalier de Balibari. Together they cheat the most famous courts of Europe with their "skill" at cards and build up a substantial fortune to add to their fame. The gambler gives up his days of adventure-seeking after conveniently "falling in love" with the Countess of Lyndon just after her extremely wealthy husband dies. His downfall comes soon after.
Highly recommended for the historical novel lover.
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on 6 September 2012
This satire of manners is narrated by the eponymous 'hero', though only he gives himself that epithet. Barry Lyndon is possibly the most unreliable narrator in English literature, and there is a great deal of entertainment to be had in contrasting his version of characters and events with the truth that peeps out through the pages. It is good fun to be shown aspects of eighteenth century high society with all its hypocrisy and foibles in the company of a (largely) lovable scoundrel, though his relentless boasting does occasionally become tedious. I learned a lot about fashionable society and its dirty linen, laughed a lot at Lyndon's cock-eyed self-image (as delusive as Don Quixote's), and even felt a tinge of sadness at his demise, however deserved.

Reviewer David Williams blogs regularly as Writer in the North.
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on 12 April 2016
Thackeray thought so ill of Barry Lyndon that he advised his daughters not to read it. Though his first novel I found it most readable and even memorable, with failings in its last section. The true story on which Barry's marriage is based -- the Stoney-Bowes marriage, which I knew about, much outshone Thackeray's fictional adaptation..
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on 13 December 2012
So easy to read in this format I have had a 19th century copy for years which I could never get through but on Kindle it was a breeze. Such an entertaining novel, Barry Lyndon was a really villainous self justifying monster you had to keep reading to see if he got his comeuppance.
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on 21 June 2013
I once wrote a paper on 'the picaresque novel' in American literature, and somehow at the time this marvellous book must have escaped my attention as an immaculate example of the genre. Barry Lyndon (aka Redmond Barry, Captain Barry, Barry of Barryogue, Redmond de Balibari) is a fascinating character. It is strange actually, how absorbed one quickly becomes in his autobiography, taking into account that he is actually an almost a-moral and definitely unreliable person: women are there to be used, men to be cheated, and I'd wager that Barry would happily take a child's pocket money if he was in need of some small change. And yet, does not the nobility happily welcome him into their circle when he's rich, and gladly play cards with him, and then forget to honour their IOU's should they happen to lose?

As such this splendid book, as unreliable a narrator as Barry Lyndon may be (and surely is), is not just the chronicle of a virtuoso swindler, but also holds up a mirror to society, and when Barry says near the end of the book 'at least, if I did and said what I liked, was not so bad as many a canting scoundrel I know of who covers his foibles and sins, unsuspected, with a ask of holiness', it seems hard to disagree with him on that point.

I vaguely recall having seen in a distant past the movie (with Ryan O'Neal, was it?) but that didn't really make an impression. Not so with the book! As always, or so it seems, the book is so much better than the movie.
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on 22 April 2016
The reason I dont like this purchase is because it never arrived at my kindle Why?
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on 28 April 2016
I loved the Film so I got the novel What a Great Story I loved it xx
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on 15 March 2016
I found this story so well written and easy to read. However, I was so glad to finish it . Cannot deny that it is a fabulous description of the gentleman named in the title though. To be honest, I have never come across such an obnoxious ,revolting man ,who writes in the first person to boot. His character over the years from a complete nobody to an old man is without doubt truly unbelievable. Interesting from the point how marriage laws have thankfully changed since the 1700s. Must have been dreadful then if the lady in question had a substantial inheritance and had the misfortune to be married to such as this Barry. He is simply so audacious in his actions as to how he blithely disposes of her inheritance as well as his own fortunes just to be accepted into the high society. Thankfully in the end his wife is not so daft as he writes her off as and he himself gets his much deserved comeuppance. In a way, Thackeray writes with humour and I definitely recommend it as it is a masterpiece of how life in the very upper classes were in that century.
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