Written immediately after Vanity Fair, Pendennis has a similar atmosphere of brooding disillusion, tempered by the most jovial of wits.
But here Thackeray plunders his own past to create the character of Pendennis and the world in which he lives: from miserable schoolboy to striving journalist, from carefree Oxbridge to the high (and low) life of London.
The result is a superbly panoramic blend of people, action and background.
The true ebb and flow of life is caught and the credibility of Pen, his worldly uncle, the Major, and many of the other characters, extends far beyond the pages of the novel.
Held together by Thackeray's flowing, confident prose, with its conversational ease of tone, Pendennis is as rich a portrait of England in the 1830s and 40s as it is a thorough and thoroughly entertaining self-portrait.