Vanity Fair, EPUB
4 out of 5 (15 ratings)


William Makepeace Thackeray's "Vanity Fair" depicts the anarchic anti-heroine Beky Sharpe cutting a swathe through the eligible young men of Europe, set against a lucid backdrop of war and international chaos.

This "Penguin Classics" edition is edited with an introduction and notes by John Carey.

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 Sedley, however, longs only for the 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 William Dobbin, devoted to Amelia, bringing pathos and depth to Thackeray's gloriously satirical epic of love and social adventure.

Set against the background of the Napoleonic wars, Thackeray's 'novel without a hero' is a lively satirical journey through English society, exposing greed, snobbery and pretension.

This edition follows the text of Thackeray's revised edition of 1853. John Carey's introduction identifies "Vanity Fair" as a landmark in the development of European Realism, and as a reflection of Thackeray's passionate love for another man's wife.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) was born and educated to be a gentleman, but gambled away much of his fortune while at Cambridge.

He trained as a lawyer before turning to journalism.

He was a regular contributor to periodicals and magazines and "Vanity Fair" was serialised in Punch in (1847-1848).

If you enjoyed "Vanity Fair" you might like Guy de Maupassant's "Bel-Ami", also available in "Penguin Classics". "Vanity Fair" has strong claims to be the greatest novel in the English language.

It is also the only English novel that challenges comparison with Tolstoy's "War and Peace"". (John Carey)


  • Format: EPUB
  • Pages: 912 pages, notes
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780141439839



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 5 of 15 reviews.

  Previous  |  Next

Review by

This novel is for the committed: committed to its 800 pages, committed to referencing endnotes and looking things up, and committed to piecing together the plot arcs and disparate characters of this tour de force.This tome is heavy on the vernacular: I advise reading an edition with copious foot- or end-notes. Translation is necessary for many contemporary references. Who knew there were so many hundreds of kinds of carriages? Some of the elements are timeless: jealousy, vanity, gallantry, pining love. These ride under an unremitting setting of high English fashion and society that seems not quaint and historical but monstrous and disorienting. At times this book is a blatant page-turner, in a soap opera titillating way. At other times it's a chore to push through pages of intricate detail about the fabric of mid-19th-century life.For every literary or satirical reference you get, there are bound to be a dozen you miss (unless your area of expertise is the Victorian novel, perhaps). In retrospect, I feel like I would have needed a full lecture series or course to understand the full breadth of this work.

Review by

This is a good book but it is very long and I actually gave up for awhile on reading it. But it is a classic so I made it through the rest of the book. It does get dry at times but the plot is amazing and it's worth the read, as long as you can get through the 912 pages.It's definitely a classic and should be read.

Review by

I am almost 70, and had never read this book. For some reason I had the idea that it was a dry, musty, boring book. Boy, was I wrong. This was one of the most enjoyable reads I've had in ages. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor. It is funny, enlightening, beautifully written. I read it because someone said it was the English counterpart to War and Peace. I agree, except that it's a lot funnier than W & P.One of my all time favorite books.

Review by

A wonderful Victorian satire.

Review by

This is a book about women.There are a couple of them in the story and I think the author was 'comparing' and 'contrasting' them.I liked both of them but figure they would most likely be 'out of my league.'

  Previous  |  Next

Also by William Makepeace Thackeray   |  View all