Book review: Vanity Fair

March 11, 2010

Title: Vanity Fair
Author: William Thackeray
Pages: 912

“Think, what right have you to be scornful, whose virtue is a deficiency of temptation, whose success may be a chance, whose rank may be an ancestor’s accident, whose prosperity is very likely a satire.”

Vanity Fair is a satirical novel that parodies high society in 19th century England. The main characters in this novel are Amelia, who comes from a distinguished and wealthy family and her friend Becky Sharp, whose family is not at all illustrious. Becky, who comes from a poor background, desires to be a part of high society. Sadly, her parentage prevents her from being accepted into the society she desires. In those days your birth mattered more than anything, even wealth and personality.

Thackeray’s satire ranges from subtle to crude (for example he gives characters names like Lord Noodle or Tapeworm). I personally felt that such crude humour mars the novel somewhat but I suppose it is a matter of taste.

The novel is unnecessarily long in places and at times the story barely moves along. I abandoned the book halfway through and read several other books before picking it up again many months later.

The latter part of the novel appealed to me personally because I felt empathy for Major Dobbin, a man who wastes many years of his life in pursuit of an impossible love. Ah, impossible love, the best love of all; never tested, never fails.


3 Responses to “Book review: Vanity Fair”

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