Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Vanity Fair” as Want to Read:
Vanity Fair
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Read Book* *Different edition

Vanity Fair

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  100,286 Ratings  ·  2,700 Reviews
A marvelous, incisive social satire that gleefully exposes the greed and corruption raging in England during the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars through its tracing of the changing fortunes of two unforgettable women. It is a comic masterpiece that still resonates today.

"Re-reading Vanity Fair, one realises what a brilliant innovation this was in the English novel," remarke
...more
Paperback, 736 pages
Published May 8th 2001 by Modern Library (first published 1847)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Vanity Fair, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Jeanne Mixon It is more racist and classist than sexist. Since Becky Sharpe is the most interesting and strongest character, I wouldn't say that sexism is the…moreIt is more racist and classist than sexist. Since Becky Sharpe is the most interesting and strongest character, I wouldn't say that sexism is the problem. The fact that it is incredibly long and boring is more of a problem. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I wish I had done that and skipped the book.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)
Here I am, 54 years old, and for the very first time reading William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair. "Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero." I disagree with Thackeray. The 'Hero' of Vanity Fair is the steadfast and stalwart William Dobbin; of that there is no doubt. This novel is not the coming of age, or bildungsroman, of Becky Sharp. No, Miss Rebecca Sharp sprang from the womb enlivened with her desire to claw her way to the top. She can't help it, and nor should she; is she really any diffe ...more
Kelly
"But as we are to see a great deal of Amelia, there is no harm in saying, at the outset of our acquaintance, that she was a dear little creature. And a great mercy it is, both in life and in novels, which (and the latter especially) abound in villains of the most sombre sort that we are to have for a companion so guileless and good natured a person. As she is not a heroine, there is no need to describe her person; indeed I am afraid that her nose was rather too short than otherwise and her cheek ...more
Jean
Written in 1848, Vanity Fair is an excellent satire of English society in the early 19th Century. Thackeray states several times that it is a novel "without a hero", and at a couple of points tries to claim that Amelia, a good person but who inevitably comes across as rather wishy-washy, is the heroine. But we all know that a "bad" girl or boy is infinitely more interesting than a "good" girl or boy, so I suspect Thackeray of dissembling even here. Becky Sharp is out and out the anti-hero(ine) ...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels

1. I liked the company of Thackeray who is breezy, ebullient and cynical about everyone’s motives. And he’s very confident too. He thinks he knows everything, although there’s not a word about how the poor live here, that’s not his subject. So he’s like the mid-19th century version of Tom Wolfe or Jonathan Franzen, two authors (among many others) who also think they know everything. I don’t mind them thinking that. It’s a good quality in a writer who’s trying to depict all of society.

2. An examp
...more
Apatt
Jun 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 humb
...more
Emily
May 16, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
I realize that I'm not making friends here by only giving what is considered a masterful piece of literature what amounts to a "meh" review but that's really how I felt about this book.

On a small scale, I thought the writing was too long-winded. This is not a fancy story and it could have been told more concisely. I was mostly bored reading it.

On a bigger scale, I had serious issues with the heroine. Rebecca is the type of woman who has always made my stomach churn in anger and to ask me to sym
...more
Grace Tjan
Spoilers!



Miss Rebecca Sharp's Guide to the Regency Society


1. If a young lady is not born into either rank or fortune, she will be looked down upon by good society and forced to exist in a humiliating dependency on others for life, unless the said young lady is willing, nay, not merely willing, but most strenuously strive to improve her situation.

2. If the said young lady, despite being a poor orphan, happens to have the good fortune of being admitted into an exclusive academy for young ladies a
...more
Matt
Ok, ok...I'm reading this as a break between books for classes in Grad School. Is that the dorkiest thing you could ever imagine? Yes. It is. It just is.

But the first two pages, the author's introduction....greatest two pages of introductory prose I've ever seen. Better than Kafka, better than Nabokov, better than whatever. Fucking brilliant- vivid, funny, rambunctious, wise, sarcastic, immortally satirical. I was hooked each time I picked up the book and read through it. Sometimes there's that
...more
Robert
Aug 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
Excessively Long Book Syndrome: It takes ages to read and it's more than a 100 years old, therefore it must be great, right? Wrong! So wrong, in this case, that the editor's claim that it "has strong claims to be the greatest novel in the English language" is laughable. It's not even the greatest such novel of its century by a huge stretch - seriously, the best works of Hardy, the Brontes and Austen are all better by a country mile, not least because they don't carry such a ridiculous weight of ...more
Safa Fatima
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, owned
Maybe I've matured as a reader now but I think I haven't enjoyed any classic as much as I did this one. It was thicker and longer than many a novel, but I enjoyed it the better for it. By the end, I understood why it was so long, the ending justified it. I was so daunted by its iconic title to read it before, but it was easier to read than most classics. The experience was complete, there wasn't anything missing, it had everything and so so much more.

Published in 1847-1848, Vanity Fair is a Vict
...more
Perry
Oct 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably First Realistic Femme Fatale of Modern Lit
The Prototype for Most Who Followed

"Now I ain't sayin' you a gold digger, you got needs.
*** Get down girl, go 'head, get down."

"Gold Digger," Kanye West, Ray Charles, Renald Richard, 2005

Becky Sharp is perhaps modern lit's first exemplar of today's femme fatale. Clever, charming, attractive, as well as artful, duplicitous, hyper-ambitious, a superself-centered woman who uses sex as one of her tools to manipulate men but only to serve her needs.
...more
Jan-Maat
I finish the book and wonder how to best convert the muddy puddle of my impressions into some-kind of a coherent rich picture of a review.

Well what is is, imagine an exhibition of of George Cruikshank's drawings or of those of Gilray perhaps, there is wit and fun, but after a while , maybe they are a little wearisome. In this it reminds me of when I was a student and sometimes, not knowing any better I'd read The Economist, eventually I noticed whatever country or problem was discussed the analy
...more
El
There was a girl I knew in school that made my formative years (for this purpose I'm considering the "formative years" to be 11-14) a bloody hell. She was a nasty, manipulative, cruel girl who, unfortunately for me, also had the luck of being beautiful and popular. She was wretched to the little people, and I was a little person. She was mean to me but I so wanted her to be my friend because I thought if I was her friend and a part of her circle, then everything would be okay. Life would be perf ...more
Russell
Oct 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thackeray's opus is a wonder. Long, yes, but so very good in so many ways.

He's part Oscar Wilde, part Jonathan Swift, with a dash of Dickens, but all his own voice.

Since the story is so long and sprawling, I only jotted down a few notes on my impressions.

* He breaks the 4th wall, some times with savage glee, yanking it down making you look at yourself and the characters in a new light. Other times he does it with delicacy, sliding back the wall and making you feel like it's just him and you in t
...more
John Purcell
Jun 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Naïve
Make sure that you read William Thackeray’s novel Vanity Fair in public, not in the hope that someone may spot you reading a classic, but so that you may see the characters of this wonderfully perceptive (and prophetic) novel wandering about in the flesh. Vanity Fair is populated not by characters but by real people and thus, will never date.

Thackeray is masterful, he allows his characters the freedom to do as they please; they are autonomous and must make decisions on their own, as must we all.
...more
Edward
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Abbreviations
Introduction
Chronology of Thackeray's Life and Works
Select Reading List
A Note on the Text


--Vanity Fair

Notes
Appendix: Parody
Textual Variants
Jessica
Jul 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jessica by: these girls at a party
First things first: Don't get this edition! I recently attended my college reunion. Whilst ambling idly around the green lawns of that hallowed institution, I had chance to encounter my most distinguished and beloved professor of English. Exalted that I happened to be dandling Thackeray's baby on my knee (instead of the glossy monthly version of Vanity Fair, as is more common with me), with sparkling eyes and an enchanting smile I thrust my copy before his erudite and discerning nose. "My favori ...more
Sparrow
You should probably read this book because it is pretty hilarious. If you don’t want to, though – if you’re a wuss about page length and the words Waterloo and Wellington aren’t enough to overcome it – there are some acceptable alternatives about which I will gladly tell you now. While the feature film was TERRIBLE, COMPLETELY SPOILED THE STORY, and didn’t pay attention to ANY of the jokes (shaking my fist at that ruiner, Mira Nair!), the A&E miniseries is really good. Like, really, really g ...more
Ryan
Oct 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good:
Probably the greatest cast of human beings ever written. Glorious, miserable and frustrating, these people were the British Empire’s middle management. It’s worth noting that this was set around the end of the Napoleonic Wars (1815) and published a generation later, like a contemporary novel taking the piss out of the 80s. It is caustic in its parody of absolutely everyone and everything, and often very funny. I thought it ended well too.

The Bad:
The second half of the novel is too long
...more
Mariel
Mar 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: getaway car
Recommended to Mariel by: six in the morning the walls close in
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT A GIRL WHO WAS ALIVE AT THE WRONG TIME.
Petra
Aug 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: floor-joists
A look at the foibles of people and their motives. Thackeray's characters display all the aspects of "vanity". By definition, vanity is either "excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements" or "the quality of being worthless or futile". Vanity can also be "a dressing table" but I suspect that Thackeray didn't have this definition in mind (:D).
Thackeray manages to give each of his characters an aspect of vanity that conflicts and contrasts with their circumstances, li
...more
Madeline
Dec 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list, ugh
According to the description on the back of my copy, this book is "deliciously satirical." If that means the book is supposed to be taken as a joke, then I definitely read it the wrong way. Maybe I should try rereading it while repeating under my breath, "It's Oscar Wilde, it's Oscar Wilde, it's Oscar Wilde" until I see that it's funny, but frankly I'd rather not.
Here, presented in simple list form, are the reasons I disliked this book:
-William Makepeace Thackeray is a condescending ass. Maybe
...more
Werner
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of 19th-century classics
Recommended to Werner by: Charlotte Bronte (in the preface to Jane Eyre, 2nd ed.)
Shelves: classics, books-i-own
This is one of the Victorian classics I read as a kid, probably at the age of 13 or 14 (certainly no older); the 1999 date refers to a second reading, when I was home schooling my daughters in British Literature, and felt that I needed a refresher on this one. Though this is Thackeray's best-known novel, it's not his only one; but it's the only one I've read (although I have read his excellent short story "Dennis Haggerty's Wife," which is included in the anthology Great English Short Stories).

A
...more
Sally Howes
"Which of us is there can tell how much vanity lurks in our warmest regard for others, and how selfish our love is? ... He [Mr. Osborne] firmly believed that everything he did was right, that he ought, on all occasions, to have his own way, and like the sting of a wasp or serpent, his hatred rushed out, armed and poisonous, against anything like opposition. He was proud of his hatred, as of everything else; always to be right, always to trample forward and never to doubt: are not these the great ...more
John
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I feel I've reached a milestone, having finally read this. I'd spent years avoiding it – partly its length and negative comments from people unable to finish it. I found it very readable and hugely entertaining. I now feel quite bereft as I had got to know Thackeray's characters pretty well and came to regard some of them as old friends, others as familiar foes. I'd expected to be bored but it is difficult to be bored by Vanity Fair, just over indulged perhaps.

It is a satire on Life and Society,
...more
Alex
Vanity Fair is sometimes called the best British novel ever written, but it's totally not. Middlemarch is way better. Honestly, VF's not even in the top ten. So why do people love it so much? Because of Becky Sharp. Which is funny, because she's not what it was supposed to be about.

Becky Sharp is to Thackeray as Satan is to Milton. The argument has been made in both cases that the author secretly intended us to love their most memorable characters, but that's not true - or at least it's not that
...more
Sandy (CA)
I approached this book with trepidation since it was so long and written so long ago. I was prepared to be burdened and bored but I really enjoyed it. It took me about ten weeks to read, and that was at a very busy time of my life, so it probably would not have taken so long under ordinary circumstances. I especially liked the ending as I expected that a female character would be the character who suffered most because of vanity -- but it was not! I liked this story so much that I might even con ...more
Giovanna
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Il mio benevolo proposito è questo, amici e compagni: guidarvi attraverso i vari spazi della Fiera di Vanità, tra negozi e spettacoli, nel più sfolgorante insieme di rumori e di spensieratezza, per poi tornare tutti a casa alla propria triste solitudine."

Era da parecchio tempo che non leggevo un classico. Avete presente quando, tutto a un tratto, non potete soffrire qualcosa che amate? Ecco, a me è successo così. Volevo leggere questo e quello e quell'altro ancora, volevo iniziare a leggere ser
...more
Roger Brunyate
Innocence—and its Opposite

I was brought up on Vanity Fair—the place depicted by John Bunyan in The Pilgrim's Progress (1678), which my father used to read to me as a child. He even tried to market a Bunyan board game, and later used his illustrations for it as slides in an evangelical road show. But Daddy was an innocent, knowing little of the sexual, social, and financial chicaneries of the real world; his Vanity Fair was merely a midway whose thrill ride ended up in the Desert of Disillusion.
...more
G.G.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being absorbed by a long novel is surely one of life's most pleasurable experiences, and I certainly sank gratefully into this one. The principal characters--Becky Sharp, Joseph Sedley ("the ex-Collector of Boggley Wollah"), his sister Amelia Sedley, and the long-suffering William Dobbin--are none of them (entirely) likable, but they are unforgettable. There is the big canvas of the novel--from Georgian England to colonial India, via London and Brighton, Waterloo and "the comfortable Ducal town ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Phineas Finn (Palliser, #2)
  • No Name
  • Adam Bede
  • Dombey and Son
  • Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
  • Shirley
  • The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  • Cranford
  • Evelina
  • The Trumpet-Major
3953
Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta, India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781 – 13 September 1815), held the high rank of secretary to the board of revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864) was the second daughter of Harriet and John Harman Becher and was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company.

William had been sent
...more
More about William Makepeace Thackeray...
46 trivia questions
4 quizzes
More quizzes & trivia...
“Revenge may be wicked, but it’s natural.” 332 likes
“Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.” 214 likes
More quotes…