Vanity Fair Readalong: The first half.

vanity fair readalong

I am SO excited to finally talk about this book! Thanks again to Trish & Melissa for hosting ๐Ÿ™‚

fainting, swooning woman

I’m surprised by how much I’m loving Vanity Fair! It was one of those classics that I wanted to read eventually, but it’s kind of long and I thought it might be boring or too hard to read. Turns out it’s actually extremely entertaining! Who woulda thought.

Oh, and right, if you haven’t read Vanity Fairย before and you’re not doing the readalongย there will be spoilers here for the first half!!! So avert your eyes. You’ve been warned.

To make sure that I was keeping up with the readalongย and to motivate myself, I decided to read it in sections – when Vanity Fair was printed, it was originally a couple of chaptersย at a time in a monthly magazine thingy. So I printed out the sections as they were published back in the day, and I’ve been reading one section a day (so about 3 to 4 chapters). There were actually a couple of days when I wanted to read past that section, but made myself wait until the next day.

vanity fair sections

The sections of Vanity Fair as they were first printed.

So, thoughts!

  • I really love the sarcastic, mean, and sometimes silly tone of Vanity Fair. I love that the author is constantly talking directly to the reader about these characters and happenings as if it’s all on a stage.
  • Yeah, I really like Becky Sharp. Is she calculating, selfish, and mean? Yup! But that’s what makes her such a fun character! And I like that she’s looking out for herself, even if she’s kind of a sociopath about doing it. She’s poor, and was picked on at that school because she was poor, and I totally get her wanting to get ahead. At least she’s not whiny…
  • like Amelia. Amelia suuuuuucccks. I just do not like that timid and fragile kind of girl that’s prone to crying all the time. Have some backbone, woman! And for no good reason other than they were matched at birth, she’s totally hung up on…
  • George Osborne, who I HATE. He is such an ASS! But I think he’s going to be one of those characters that I love to hate. Lighting your cigar with love letters from your lady is such a douche move, but it’s also SO crappy that you almost kind of can’t believe it. It was a total “Oh-no-he-didn’t!” moment. But it looks like we won’t have to deal with him anymore, so yay.
  • Awwwww Dobbin! I liked Dobbin right away, when he was defending himself as a kid. And now he’s the sweet guy who (for some reason) is in love with Amelia and is literally doing all he can to make her happy. And she treats him like garbage. I’m wondering though… Dobbin seems like a “hero”, and this novel isn’t supposed to have a hero, so will he do something horrible later?
  • I didn’t like Rawdon at first… but now I kind of do. It’s endearing how much he kind of adores Becky right now. He’s not a horrible guy.
mustachios

But why is he so obsessed with his mustachios???

 

  • Little things like that are what are making me love this book. There’s so much humor and wit and edge and I just love it all so far.
  • Sooo… Mrs. Bute is horrible. I liked old Matilda Crawley at first, but now I don’t cause she’s a big ol’ hypocrite. All “oh rank and titles aren’t important!” and then she goes and disowns Rawdon for marrying Becky? Lame.
  • Things started to drag a little bit around the war stuff, don’t you think? War talk in books almost always makes my eyes glaze over.
  • Aaaand now the young Pitt Crawley and his boring little wife are the ones inheriting all of Matilda Crawley’s fortune! Wonder what Becky and Rawdon are gonna do now… And oh yeah, Becky had a baby. I wonder how that’s gonna go. She doesn’t seem like the mother type.
  • Oh, I would totally be ALL about Thackeray and declare him one of my favorite classic authors… except for how racist he seems. Yeah yeah, I know it was common for the times, but I don’t like it. His descriptions of Sambo and Miss Swartz are really horrible. I tried looking up more about him online, and things seem to point to his being racist… It seems like there’s not a whole lot of biographies about him though, so finding info is hard. This might keep me from reading his other books after Vanity Fair though.

 

Okay, I think those are the majority of my thoughts! What do you guys think so far?

~Sarah

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10 comments

  1. Since this may be a classic I end up reading, I didn’t read your recap, but I’m so happy you’re enjoying it! I love it when I pick up a BIG book, especially a classic, and end up loving it. ๐Ÿ™‚ One of the books I need to read this year is The Count of Monte Cristo, which is, like, 1200 pages. It’s daunting, but I’ve heard it’s a lot of people’s favourite so I’m excited!

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  2. Thackeray was a brilliant observer of the social scene, and Vanity Fair is his masterpiece. But save room for Barry Lyndon, Thackeray’s tale of a poor Irish romantic who becomes a cynical rake. The Stanley Kubrick movie version’s not bad, too, if you just work around Ryan O’Neal as an inert mass in the title role.

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  3. There is one very particular reason why I can’t digest Becky very well, but I think you are not that far into so I won’t discuss it yet. As for the others pretty much agree (especially George Osborne – ugh!). Dobbin seems to be the most likeable character overall, thought at times I also felt like shaking him and offering an extra backbone :p But he’s okay, specially given the overall very odd cast of characteristics in the novel. Glad you are enjoying it!

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    1. I can’t wait to get to the part you’re mentioning about Becky!

      Dobbin does need some extra backbone… or at least confidence. He took up to Osborne and Osborne’s dad okay, but gets all flustered around Amelia.

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  4. Wish I’d seen that schedule earlier–would have had us stop at 35. Who knows–my copy probably contains the printing schedule but oops. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Glad you’re enjoying it! I really like the narrator’s biting little sidebits as well and Becky has been a lot of fun–though I’m guessing that babe of hers will just fall to the wayside. I missed that she was pregnant (bad zoning out habit with audio) so I was surprised when all of a sudden she had a child!

    Yes re Amelia. Grow up girl!

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    1. I found that schedule on Wikipedia, so don’t feel bad! I don’t think my copy of the book has it.

      I am enjoying it! Although not that we’re in the 2nd half, I feel like it’s slown down just a bit. Not quite as many snarky remarks. Or maybe I’m just getting used to them, lol.

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  5. I’m glad you pointed out the rampant racism. I know Thackeray is mostly just a product of his times, but it’s hard sometimes to put such awfulness into a time perspective. Also, from a comment above I just realized that Thackeray wrote Barry Lyndon! I read that in college but didn’t make the connection they were the same Thackeray (I must need sleep). Loved Barry Lyndon and wrote a long research paper comparing the book to the film. Now I’m more excited about the rest of Vanity Fair!

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    1. Yeah… part of me understands that racism was the norm in those times, but I still find it hard to stomach.

      I haven’t heard of Barry Lyndon! Depending on how much I end up liking Vanity Fair, I might seek it out ๐Ÿ™‚

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  6. Oh, great idea to print out that schedule. Can’t believe how much I’m enjoying the story (and have laughed at all the mentions of mustachios!), but I don’t really like any of the characters. Maybe that will change in the second half… we’ll see.

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    1. Yeah, this is definitely one of those books where you’re not really supposed to like the characters because most of them are horrible people and he’s commenting on society and blah blah. But I’m a mean person, so I really enjoy seeing horrible mean people in classics! They’re always amusing, at least ๐Ÿ™‚

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