Margaret's Reviews > Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
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's review
Dec 31, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: british-literature, victorian-fiction, authors-tu
Read in January, 2005 , read count: 1

I had a lovely Everyman's edition of Vanity Fair for several years, just sitting on my bookshelf unread, looking reproachfully at me. Finally, I decided to take it down and read it, thus filling an enormous gap in my Victorian-era reading. I fear that I can now only be disappointed in Thackeray's other books (though I intend to read them anyway), because I can't imagine anything better than Vanity Fair.

The plot does sprawl a little, but the characters are so wonderfully realized that it doesn't matter (and sprawling plots are a feature I'm used to in Victorian novels anyway). The best thing about the characters is how three-dimensional they are, and how Thackeray never lets you see them in black or white; in this "novel without a hero" (the book's subtitle), the worst characters have good points, and the best have deep flaws. The virtuous Amelia dangerously romanticizes her loved one, while the wicked Becky Sharp is perhaps the novel's most appealing (and certainly most famous) character, in spite of her immorality (though at the same time, Thackeray never lets you lose sight of her essential wickedness).
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03/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell I should reread this! Read it AGES ago and probably forgot 9/10 of it (//shame), but I do love Becky.

Margaret Thackeray's cynicism is such an interesting contrast to the sentimentality of, say, Dickens.

I should read it again, too. Maybe when I finish one of my other Victorian reading projects, I'll start Thackeray, since I still have several of his I haven't even read once.

message 3: by Moira (new) - added it

Moira Russell Margaret wrote: "Thackeray's cynicism is such an interesting contrast to the sentimentality of, say, Dickens. "

IIRC, that was really what put Charlotte Bronte off -- she thought he had a great gift but missed his duty to preach morality! Dear earnest Charlotte.

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