Genre: Literary Fiction
I finally finished William Makepeace Thackeray‘s Vanity Fair. It’s only taken me three months, not necessarily because it was a bad book (which it wasn’t), but because at nearly 700 pages, it’s freaking long. And extremely dense. My overall impression of Vanity Fair: It’s like reading a soap opera, which is possibly the point. A soap opera for the populous of the 1800s.
The book follows the stories of two young women, Becky (a sly and cunning adventuress whose main goal is to advance her station in life) and Amelia (a love-struck girl who believes the world revolves around her beloved). The two are friends in a very loose sense of the word. I’m pretty sure Becky would throw Amelia under the horse-drawn bus in a heartbeat if it meant her own social advancement. As the women grow from young women into middle age, their lives change several times, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.
According to Wikipedia, the story was originally released in 20 parts between 1847 and 1848. It definitely has the feel of a long running series. The story is entertaining, but the reader is expected to go through a lot to get to the actual story line. There will be three or four chapters wherein absolutely nothing happens, and then at the end of the fifth chapter, something big is revealed, making the reader anxious to see what will happen next. Then it’s another four chapters until the implications of the ‘big reveal’ are, in turn, revealed, spurring the reader on again.
Though that doesn’t sound like a very positive description, I actually did enjoy the book. I think some of my frustration with it came from the fact I really didn’t have time to be reading such a dense book at this time in my life (my job sucks up way too much of my time). But I’m glad I made it through.