68. ‘Vanity Fair’ by William Makepeace Thackeray

What a wonderful book this is! I admit I have not re-read it this time,  although I have read it several times in the past, most recently when I was working in Indonesia; I just have too many books I have not read and want to at the moment…but I can definitely recommend this if you love a story that just keeps making you want to read more of it!

In it, to quote Thackeray, you will find ‘a great quantity of eating and drinking, making love and jilting, laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheating, fighting, dancing and fiddling, there are bullies pushing about, bucks ogling the women, knaves picking pockets, policemen on the look out, quacks bawling in front of their booths, and yokels looking up at the tinselled dancers and poor old rouged tumblers’. So, nothing much has changed, save maybe the dress code!

Set in the early 1800’s against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, it was originally written as a serial published between 1847-8, for which he was paid the princely sum of £60 per monthly episode. I find it amazing that he  apparently began writing with no clear idea of how the story would end, but literally made it all up as he went along, and have always loved the sub-title, ‘A Novel Without a Hero’. In truth, the hero is an anti-heroine, the amoral, resourceful, clever but impoverished Becky Sharp, whom we meet in Chapter One as she and Amelia Sedley, the second star of the show, are leaving their genteel educational establishment in Chiswick to launch themselves upon the world.

It really is one of the ‘must reads’ of English literature. Mum has dated it July 1993 inside the front cover, but must have intended a re-read, as it went with her when she down sized from the house to a flat – but sadly, never got around to it. And now, her copy is looking fora new home – as always, if you’d like it, please get in touch either here or through the Facebook or Instagram pages, and I will send it to you with much love from Mum and I.

And, whilst thinking about classic novels, I do still have Mum’s copy of the remarkable ‘Wives and Daughters’ by Elizabeth Gaskell looking for a new home too…!