Vanity Fair by William Thackeray – Readalong Wrap-Up!

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So Vanity Fair has come to an end. And getting to that end had some rather painfully boring bits – not going to lie. In fact, there were chapters that convinced me I would never finish the book, chapters that I literally have no recollection of what happened. But that’s okay because much of Thackeray’s story was superfluous fluff that got lost somewhere along the way for me. I definitely think my main issue was the audio. Not that this particular audio was bad, just that an 800+ page Victorian monstrosity should probably be read if I want to catch all the nuances and details. Lesson learned. Also, SPOILERS.

However, the last 200 pages or so were quite entertaining learning how everyone’s story concluded. I’m glad Amelia finally understood that her marvelous George was a devious rascal and that Dobbin truly loved her. I did get the feeling that by the time they married Dobbin’s feelings had rather cooled towards Amelia though. As for dear, darling Becky, we can only assume that she had some major role in Jos’s death as she continued on with her wily ways. The children, little Rawdon and Georgie, appear to have grown up well enough and hopefully their lives in the Vanity Fair will turn out more honest. But judging how ensconced society still is in the conceit of the Vanity Far some 150+ years later, I sort of doubt it.

In addition to finishing the novel, I also viewed the 2004 film starring Reese Witherspoon. I thought the movie was okay. The casting really intrigued me and turned out fairly perfect. I especially loved Jonathan Rhys Meyer as George Osborne. Perfection. Reese Witherspoon was a good choice for Becky, but Julian Fellows and his fellow script writers dropped the ball on her characterization. They did their best to make her a redeemable character – far less of the wicked little social climber that Thackeray created which bothered me. Do we not watch films with wicked women as lead characters or do we just demand that a wicked woman be getting ahead for reasons we can justify? Can’t she just want a title and money for a title and money’s sake?

I compared Becky Sharp to Moll Flanders throughout my entire time with her. I love Moll Flanders something fierce, even the movie adaptations. For this reason, I think my love for Becky Sharp could never surpass a trifle fondness. Without a doubt, a marvelous character and Vanity Fair’s best, but I didn’t embrace her quite as much as Moll.

Do I recommend this book to fellow readers? If you love Victorian literature and can deal with myriad side plots and large families with the same name – YES! Otherwise, good luck! I’m immensely glad I read Thackeray’s supposed masterpiece but have a feeling the details will fade over time. Now that you’ve read my ridiculous blunderings, head over to Melissa’s blog for the official wrap up post! And a huge thank you to Trish and Melissa for hosting!


8 thoughts on “Vanity Fair by William Thackeray – Readalong Wrap-Up!

  1. There were definitely some dull parts. I just watched the 1998 BBC version and I thought it was really good (much better than the 2004 one). Becky’s character is much closer to the book, devious all the way! Thanks for joining in the fun. This one was much easier to read with the support of a group.

  2. There were DEFINITELY some dull chapters. I did some skimming at those parts, or checked Cliffs Notes to make sure I knew what I needed to.

    I haven’t seen any of the movies yet but I plan to watch the 2004 one soon. I heard that they made Becky a lot more sympathetic and “innocent” in the movie, which is a shame. She had good reasons for her scheming in the book (grew up poor), but she also did horrible things in order to advance like adultery and possibly murder… apparently in the movie they make it look like she didn’t really do those things? Personally, I like her wicked little self in the book 🙂

  3. Oh yes, there were chapters in the second half that were totally unreadable (and unlistenable!), but overall I really enjoyed this book. Your post has me very curious about Moll Flanders… I’m going to have to find a way to work that into my Classics Club list.

    It also sounds like the 1998 BBC adaptation is the one to watch. Didn’t realize Julian Fellows was behind the 2004 film, so I’ll probably check that out, too.

    Did you listen to the audio version with Wanda McCaddon narrating?

    • I really love Moll Flanders. It’s one of my favorite novels particularly for its gender bending main character. I was shocked to see Julian Fellows had written the 2004 film as well. I did listen to McCaddon’s narration. I don’t blame her; I blame Thackeray!

  4. Pingback: The Classics Club: Wherein I Cave and Join… | The Blog of Litwits

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