Vanity Fair (Vintage Classics) Paperback – 2 Apr 2009
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"The only English novel which...challenges comparison with War and Peace" (John Carey)
"The best thing he ever wrote - sharp, brilliant, touching, clever and cruel, with an unforgettable heroine" (Joanna Trollope)
"Witty, sexy, sandy-haired Becky Sharp, whose impoverished background explains her hunger for rich men and high position. She is a rebel from the very first chapter of Thackeray's Vanity Fair. Her one final act of kindness derives from her constant virtue: seeing things as they are" (Maggie Gee Independent)
"A terrific book - bold, funny, scathing and quite unpredictable" (Al Murray)
"Becky Sharp may be one of literature's great schemers, but she's also one of its most memorable and entertaining. More rounded than almost all the simpering Victorian dolls who followed, she alone is worth the read" (The Times)
'I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year' Vanity FairSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
It opens with two young women departing from a ladies' academy: dull, sweet Amelia (rich) and fiery sharp-witted Rebecca (poor). Becky Sharp is a relentless social climber, and her first effort to rise "above her station" is by trying to get Amelia's brother to marry her -- an effort thwarted by Amelia's fiancee. So instead she gets married to another family's second son, Rawdon Crawley.
Unfortunately, both young couples quickly get disinherited and George is killed. But Becky is determined to live the good life she has worked and married for -- she obtains jewels and money from admiring gentlemen, disrupting her marriage. But a little thing like a tarnished reputation isn't enough to keep Becky down...
"Vanity Fair" is actually a lot more complex than that, with dozens of little subplots and complicated character relationships. Reading it a few times is necessary to really absorb all of it, since it is not just a look at the two women in the middle of the book, but at the upper (and sometimes lower) social strata of the nineteenth century.
The main flaw of the book is perhaps that it sprawls too much -- there's always a lot of stuff going on, not to mention a huge cast of characters, and Thackeray sometimes drops the ball when it comes to the supporting characters and their little plots. It takes a lot of patience to absorb all of this. However... it's worth it.Read more ›
Vanity Fair has that universal quality of the best fiction - it enables you to see the world in a new way. An hour reading this novel is time spent with a true comedian, someone who sees the grotesque, humorous, admirable, cruel, stubborn, heroic, gentle etc reality of the human condition and can tell it in chapters of the best English since Shakespeare.
Thackeray's most successful novel is truly an epic saga of the intertwining lives of two schoolgirls and their acquaintances. I wont summerise the story here as others have already done so, and I wouldnt want to spoil it for the reader. Suffice it to say that the story is compelling and gripping from the start. The story is of course complex, given the length of the book, but Thackeray succeeds in drawing together all the strands very successfully although there are one or two characters I would have loved to see more of. The story is easy to follow but not predictable in the way literature can sometimes be, making this a real page turner.
Being a Regency period novel, the language can take a little bit of getting used to, especially if you are new to 19th century literature. However, it is worth persisting with it as once you get used to it the prose is beautifully composed and the story fascinating. My only criticism of the novel would be that sometimes Thackeray seems to go off on a tangent which is not necessary for the story and prolongs the novel by perhaps 30-40 pages too many. However, this is far outweighed by the quality of the story and the characters within.Read more ›
Reading the reviews posted here it's clear that VF is very dear to many people and to some extent I can see why - the authorial voice is so intelligent, perceptive and ironic. But the book is very long, rambling and episodic. And while Thackeray starts by being critical of all his characters, a splendid antidote to Victorian sentimentality, he seems to become captivated by the truly awful Amelia, showing increasing sympathy to her as he goes on. There are some chapters that are worthy of Dickens in their slushy embrace of her charms. And I don't really see why readers find Becky so wonderful - she is monumentally selfish!
Well, each to her/his own. I do wonder though how many people will continue to read this novel except as a set text. It creaks so much.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A richly entertaining Victorian novel full of colourful language and characterisation as well as a penetrating insight into British society life of the times.Published 20 days ago by chris hornsby
This is part of my required reading for undergraduate study. 100 pages in and Vanity Fair was still very dull. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I have to say I haven't finished this novel having given up after 40 or so pages. I found it really difficult to get a handle on the situation or to locate the main characters in... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Oscar
"Vanity Fair" represents London society in the early years of the 19th century. Thackeray's work describes the greed, hypocrisy, selfishness and rigid class structure that... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Martin Grundy
best book i have ever read in English...i have now four copies, one in the library, one in my bedroom, one in the summerhouse, and one on my kindle... Read morePublished 4 months ago by april