zondag 31 januari 2016

William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair

Hi again

My last review this month will be about Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray.
I got this book from friends (thank you Andries en Marina) when they visited us. It’s the beautiful Penguin English Library edition and it has 883 pages and 14 pages of reactions to Vanity Fair by its contemporary writers.

I was ill this last week but luckily, I started the book around the 10th of January because I wanted to read it slowly. So I was able to finish the remaining pages on time.

 “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.”

Vanity Fair is basically a very big satire and a family history in one.
Thackeray mocks the different classes of people and mainly the elite; how fast they rise and fall. It’s funny and witty but also very tragic.

The writing style is really easy to read and conversational (the writer is actually talking to us). However, I did not really like it when he breaks the fourth wall. It’s confusing and it doesn’t really add much to the story.
The narrator does go on and on, meaning it’s too long winded for the story he’s telling. I would have enjoyed it more had it been shorter and more condensed. There’s no need to talk about the future of characters barely mentioned for example. Rather tedious.
As with Dickens’ work and The Green Mile by Stephen King, Vanity Fair was published as a series and it shows that the writes was paid per issue and not for the novel as a whole.
And I didn’t like his generalizations about women. He doesn’t do that to men but whatever one woman does or says wrong is seen as normal for all women, everywhere.

Becky and Amelia; two very different women. Sometimes I could strangle them and sometimes they made me smile.
Becky is manipulative, funny, ambitious, mean, brutal, tough, strong-minded, unloving and really unlikable. She wants to get higher up in a world where she’s meant to stay where she is. And I do love it when a character is fighting for a better life against all odds. But she’s highly unlikable and she deserves so much of her heartbreak and suffering too!
Amelia is naïve, weak-minded, rather stupid, simpering, blind and insipid but also very sweet and lovable.
I did appreciate what the characters were standing for but I didn’t like them and that’s what made it hard for me to love the book. I find it hard to sympathize with both of them but for different reasons. One is cruel and the other is a simpering idiot.

The ending was not for me. Why did it have to be Becky to point things out to Amelia? I don’t want redemption for Becky, I want to keep on hating her, or at least not loving her. She doesn’t deserve some sort of redemption.

I’m torn and I’m not sure how much I enjoyed this book because I’m unsure about the characters. I do think there’s a certain kind of beauty in unlikeable characters but I can’t take it when the book is full of them.


Happy reading.

Enjoying this.