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Kylie

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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Welcome to the thread for our October Reading Circle! This month's choice is:

Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray

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.

Here are the usual questions to consider:

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

3. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

I'll throw in some more questions throughout the month to keep the discussion going.

Happy reading everyone!

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I'm reading this at the moment (and will probably still be reading it come the end of the month as it's rather thick!) but I'm' enjoying it immensely!

 

I love Becky Sharp - yes, she's rather manipulative, but she's a fun character. And I kind of like Jos too, vain and silly as he is. :)

 

Amelia I find rather insipid and George I cannot take to, but Dobbin is such a good, solid, faithful fellow, one cannot help but like him.

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Wow, turns out this is just one of the books I am reading atm. Have been for about a week, my mojo isn't great now, but since this thread's started up I might give this preference over the other two books I am reading.

 

And it's not that big a book, bit over 600 pages, not too bad if it's good. Only still about 50 pages in though. ;)

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I'm about 100 pages in so far & really enjoying it . It's a re read for me but it's such a long time since I first read it that I find that I've forgotten quite a lot of the storyline. My favourite character by far is Becky Sharp she's not the sort of person I'd want as a friend but I can't help but admire her cleverness & cunning. Thackeray writes with such humour that I find myself smiling all the time while I'm reading.

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I lov that the author keeps stepping out of the story to comment on the events as they unfold, speaking directly to the reader - it makes me feel like I'm almost in cahoots with him and able to make comments in return - LOL!

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I am over half way through, and am enjoying both the story and the style it is written in, but I am having a wee break to read something else (the latest Harry Bosch novel by Michael Connelly) - it will be a really quick read, honest, and then I will get right back to it!

 

So far, I don't like Becky Sharp at all. It is interesting to read what she gets up to, but I wouldn't like someone like her in real life, and haven't been able to get past that feeling while I'm reading. Maybe she will grow on me through the rest of the book! My favourite at the moment is probably faithful old Dobbin, doing his best for Amelia (who I agree seems a bit insipid, much more a girl to Becky's woman) while she continually overlooks him.

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I haven't managed to get very far into the book yet but I love the writing style. Particularly the way the social customs of the time are the main focus. I'm interested that it is written by a man as most similar books I have read have been by women.

 

I love to read about Becky. She's a great villain but agree in real life I would not like her at all.

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My favourite character by far is Becky Sharp she's not the sort of person I'd want as a friend but I can't help but admire her cleverness & cunning. Thackeray writes with such humour that I find myself smiling all the time while I'm reading.

 

I wouldn't like to have Becky Sharp in my life either. She can certainly pull the wool over people's eyes!

 

I lov that the author keeps stepping out of the story to comment on the events as they unfold, speaking directly to the reader - it makes me feel like I'm almost in cahoots with him and able to make comments in return - LOL!

 

I love this aspect of the book too. :)

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Just joined the site (yesterday) and by coincidence Vanity Fair is one of the books I am reading at the moment.It's a book I've been meaning to read for years and my first by Thackeray. About 200 pages in and wishing Amelia would get a backbone and recognise a good thing (Dobbin), but social mores are working against her. The one character flouting social conventions is the one we dislike because she is so manipulative. Does anyone think this is deliberate? I suspect that Thackeray secretly quite likes Becky; I may be wrong; not reached the end yet.

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Becky is actually my favourite character so far because she's so hell-bent on flouting social conventions. :)

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I think that because Amelia is the polar opposite of Becky she comes across as being a very weak insipid character but I'm feeling real sympathy for her for the first time now that her circumstances have changed.

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Becky is actually my favourite character so far because she's so hell-bent on flouting social conventions. :)

 

I loved the way she flung her copy of Johnson's Dixionary back into the garden as they left Miss Pinkertons, right from the beginning you know that Becky is going to be a force to be reckoned with :)

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I really enjoyed reading this book again I was in my late teens early twenties when I first read it & I think this time round I had a better understanding of the characters motivations & behaviour now that I'm older. My favourite character is Becky Sharp, although she's not the nicest character in the book for me she's the most interesting & I admire her resilience & I do think she did redeem herself slightly at the end of the book when she helped Amelia to come to her senses. I love Thackeray's writing style there is so much humour in the story but you never feel that he's sneering at the society that his characters belong to, there were only a couple of chapters that I thought dragged a bit which is quite an achievement in such a big book . Looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought about it.

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I'm about a third of the way through now and enjoying it immensely. I have to say that Dobbin is really growing on me - such a sweet and thoughtful man with passions that run deep, but very quietly. I really feel for him! I'm also still loving the impish Becky - she's such fun!

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Well, I have finally finished - I had begun to feel I was never going to get there!

 

Dobbin was the only character that I actually liked from the beginning of the book to the end. I did have some fondness for other characters (Rawdon Crawley senior, Jos, etc) but he really stuck out for me. Despite trying really quite hard, I never did develop a liking for Becky - apart from that one instance at the end of the book, she never did anything without an eye for the profit she could make from it, and was needlessly unkind to those who loved her.

 

There were only a couple of parts of the book that I found boring (the parts where Miss Crawley was unwell and various people were trying to ingratiate themselves with her, and where Becky took part in the play come to mind). The rest I found much of a level, with no particular parts that I enjoyed more than others standing out, but by the same token there were no ideas I struggled with. I have read quite a lot in this genre, and would do so again, but wouldn't rush to read more Thackeray.

 

Overall I would say I did enjoy the book, but just found it far too long for the lightweight story-line. I know that was due to the book originally having been a serial, but by the end I was completely fed up and didn't care what happened to any of the characters any more. I will probably think more kindly of it in a few days time, but at the moment my main feeling is one of relief that I have finally finished it!

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Well, I have finally finished - I had begun to feel I was never going to get there!

 

I know the feeling - I'm still stumbling along.

 

I'm getting quite confused by the characters - the men seem to have the same name, junior and senior, and then when all the women are referred to as Miss Crawley, Mrs Crawley, Lady Crawley etc I start to forget who the author is referring to.

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It's been a while since I've read the book, so I hope I have this right. I recall growing a bit fond of Becky's husband, Crawley, later on in the book when he becomes a better person.

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It's been a while since I've read the book, so I hope I have this right. I recall growing a bit fond of Becky's husband, Crawley, later on in the book when he becomes a better person.

 

Yes, that's what happened with me - his genuine love for his son in particular made me warm to him.

 

I'm getting quite confused by the characters - the men seem to have the same name, junior and senior, and then when all the women are referred to as Miss Crawley, Mrs Crawley, Lady Crawley etc I start to forget who the author is referring to.

 

That happened to me quite a bit too, I would be quite engrossed in reading and then would have to stop for a minute to think and get straight who was being referred to.

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Well, I have finally finished - I had begun to feel I was never going to get there!

 

Dobbin was the only character that I actually liked from the beginning of the book to the end. I did have some fondness for other characters (Rawdon Crawley senior, Jos, etc) but he really stuck out for me

 

 

I agree with you about Dobbin but I really disliked Jos Sedley I thought he was vain, pompous & greedy & I had no sympathy for him at the end of the book:)

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I'm finally posting my thoughts on Vanity fair. I finished it after October and then I need some time for it to percolate before I wanted to comment.

 

1. Who was your favourite character and why?

 

It's almost easier to say who was my least favourite character as this was perhaps the most flawed bunch of characters I have ever come across. But I guess that is true to life. I think I liked Rawdon Crawley senior - he started off as a bit of a scoundrel but then became completely enraptured with his wife and a changed man. You have to admire that. yes he was stupid and his wife played him for a fool but I still liked that change in his character

 

2. Was there a particular part you enjoyed/disliked more than the rest?

 

My favourite part was in the beginning where Becky was trying to entrap Jos Sedley. My least favourite part was later in the book when she was entering high soceity and in a play. I must admit I skim read a fair bit of that as it was boring me.

 

3. Was this the first book you've read in this genre/by this author, has it encouraged you to read more?

 

I have read other classic social comedies eg Jane Austen and really enjoyed them. I was interested that this book was written by a man as the main characters were female and it seemed to be told from a woman's point of view, I thought. Anyone else agree with that?

I would like to read more of this type of book but not for awhile as it was a massive undertaking to get through this one!

 

4. Were there any parts/ideas you struggled with?

 

Just the length - it got quite wordy. The characters and their reaction were quite true to life.

 

5. Overall, was reading the book an enjoyable experience?

Yes

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I'm glad you enjoyed Vanity Fair Lady Macbeth. I definitely agree about Rawdon Crawley. I developed quite a soft spot for him towards the end of the novel.

 

I think I always heard the narrator's voice in my head as a man's voice though. I'll be interested to hear what other think?

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I skipped over the part with the play as well, ladymacbeth, as I thought it was quite incredibly boring.

 

Like Kylie, I always heard the narrator's voice as being that of a man, but I think that might well be just because I knew a man had written the book and was imagining him as the narrator.

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I'm afraid I've abandoned it for the time being. I'd been reading it for the best part of two months and was still only half way through. I may well go back to it again in the future, though, as there were parts of it that I enjoyed, and I liked the film. :)

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