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Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

Vanity Fair (1847)

by William Makepeace Thackeray

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9,868131287 (3.88)1 / 608
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English (125)  Spanish (2)  Italian (2)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (131)
Showing 1-5 of 125 (next | show all)
Becky Sharpe is one of my all time favourite literary characters. I've read this book twice now, with different book clubs, 14 years apart, but the joy has not diminished. Those who finished the book were in thrall to Thackeray's mastery of the genre. A definite classic and a treat! ( )
  celerydog | Jan 24, 2016 |
Tried to read it....stopped at Ch. 5. I will try this again later.
  AmieB7 | Jan 21, 2016 |
Vanity Fair William Makepeace Thackeray
3 Stars

A novel without a hero the story follows the lives of 2 very different school girls as they grow and develop into women and find their place in society.

Neither of the main characters Amelia Sedley or Rebecca Sharp are particularly likeable and society itself is viewed very cynically.

I found this to be a story that went nowhere and that took 854 pages to get there. ( )
  BookWormM | Jan 15, 2016 |
Read the first couple of chapters last night and ARDSJDSG MY GOODNESS this is going to be so good. It's been way too long since I last read a Victorian classic.
  TheEditrix | Jan 13, 2016 |
Vanity Fair is a big surprise for me. I was expecting a story about the trial and tribulations of a couple of plucky lady friends what I discovered was a witty, satirical novel that made me laugh several times, engaged my attention always and even moving at times.

On the surface Vanity Fair is a story of the two main characters Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley, two childhood friends from the opposite ends of the moral and intellectual spectrum. Becky is ambitious, conniving and smart, Amelia is humble, kind, simple, and rather dim. The novel concurrently charts Becky’s rise from her humble station in life to the rank of the fashionable high society, while Amelia meets with several misfortunes and becomes penniless. It is quite a lengthy novel of more than 800 pages with a large cast of characters who revolve around the lives of the two protagonists.

The most interesting feature of Vanity Fair is how meta it is. Thackeray often breaks the fourth wall to address the reader directly with sly and humorous asides, making light of the novelist’s omnipotence. This is a difficult book to review because it is so densely plotted with something happening on every page.

The characters are very well developed, particularly Becky who is basically a femme fatale but still manages to show the odd flashes of conscience. Amelia is too virtuous for her own good yet unintentionally takes advantage of a man who has an unrequited love for her. It is an interesting trope of a lot of fiction that the nicest, kindest man is immediately friendzoned by the love of his life. This is very much the case for William Dobbin the man who longs for his (dead) best friend’s girl Amilia like a Norwegian Blue parrot pining for the fjord*

My only minor criticism of the book is that some of the characters are just a little too stupid to be realistic. Amelia is well aware of Dobbin’s love for her but feels unable to return his love because she feels that she would be betraying the memory of her dead husband. Although Amelia is naïve, dimwitted and does not care for him Dobbin – an intelligent fellow – cannot get over his obsession with her. Amelia’s brother Jos is even worse, he has seen with his own eyes that Becky is dishonest, mercenary and cannot be trusted but he still falls for her entrapment. His stupidity is surprising because he is described as talented and singlehandedly recues his father and his sister from extreme poverty.

Thackeray’s writing is wonderful, excessive usage of the word “prodigious” notwithstanding. I don’t think I have read anything this witty since [b: The Picture of Dorian Gray|5297|The Picture of Dorian Gray|Oscar Wilde|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1424596966s/5297.jpg|1858012]. Like all long novels it is something to sink into and live with rather than just passively reading.

The book makes me reflect that being virtuous is not enough to be of much use to the world if the virtue is not supported by intelligence and wisdom. On the other hand being clever like Becky and achieving wealth and fame is a hollow accomplishment if you are left with no genuine friends and family and viewed with disdain everywhere you go.

One of my favorite Victorian novels, if you like reading the classics Vanity Fair is a must.


For a change the free audiobook does not come from Librivox.org, they have their own edition but it is read by multiple readers several of them are very bad. The edition I listened to is from Lit2Go, beautifully read by Amanda Elan.

My favorite quotes are not included on GR’s quotes page for this book so I’ll drop them here:

“Though he was familiar with all languages, Mr. Kirsch was not acquainted with a single one, and spoke all with indifferent volubility and incorrectness.”

“If, a few pages back, the present writer claimed the privilege of peeping into Miss Amelia Sedley's bedroom, and understanding with the omniscience of the novelist all the gentle pains and passions which were tossing upon that innocent pillow, why should he not declare himself to be Rebecca's confidante too, master of her secrets, and seal-keeper of that young woman's conscience?”

* Hi Cecily! ;) ( )
1 vote apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (90 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Thackeray, William Makepeaceprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ball, RobertIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carey, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carey, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Macchi, RuthTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marquand, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nierop, A. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ridley, M. R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Saintsbury, GeorgeEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stewart, J. I. M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Trollope, JoannaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tuomikoski, AinoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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While the present century was in its teens, and on one sun-shiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour.
But, lo! and just as the coach drove off, Miss Sharp put her pale face out of the window and actually flung the book back into the garden.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141439831, Paperback)

No one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than the alluring and ruthless Becky Sharp, who defies her impoverished background to clamber up the class ladder. Her sentimental companion amelia, however, longs only for caddish soldier George. As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles—military and domestic—are fought, fortunes made and lost. The one steadfast and honourable figure in this corrupt world is Dobbin with his devotion to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:34 -0400)

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"Thus asks Thackeray in his gloriously entertaining saga, as a vibrant cast of characters scheme and scramble for life's prizes on the crowded stage of Vanity Fair. And no one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than Becky Sharp, Thackeray's supreme creation. Brilliant, alluring and ruthless, she defies her poverty-stricken background to clamber up the social ladder, while her sentimental companion Amelia longs only for caddish soldier George." "As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles - military and domestic - are fought; fortunes are made and lost. And amid the fast-paced action stands Dobbin with his unrequited love for Amelia. A true gentleman in a corrupt world, he brings pathos and depth to Thackeray's epic tale of love and social adventure."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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William Makepeace Thackeray is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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12 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439831, 0141199644, 0141199547

Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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