Monthly Archives: October 2013

Vanity Fair

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Books

My Education

Genre: Fiction

Continuing through the Cosmopolitan  suggested reads, I recently read My Education by Pulitzer Prize finalist Susan Choi. I regret to say that of the books Cosmo has suggested to me thus far, this has BY FAR been my least favorite. This 300-page novel took me nearly two weeks to get through. There were times when I thought it was never going to end.

The thing that contributed most to this book being so difficult to read was that I didn’t care at all about any of the character. The narrator got on my nerves for being a whiny child of twenty-one who apparently knew less about the way the world works than I did at twenty-one (and I guarantee I grew up in a more sheltered environment). The narrator’s girlfriend got on my nerves for being an overly selfish and just plain inconsiderate woman who only cared about herself. The girlfriend’s husband got on my nerves for being dull. And the narrator’s roommate got on my nerves for… well, actually he was the only one I could sympathize with because he had to begrudgingly put up with all the other characters just like I did.

The other main complaint I have about this book is that even at the end, I didn’t understand why I was being told this story. There didn’t seem to be a point to any of it. Even now, thinking back on it and trying to bring purpose to the book, I just can’t do it. Nothing makes sense. Therefore, I can’t help but feel that the two weeks spent reading were just a waste of time.

For the first time since I started reading the Cosmo books, I am going to have to refrain from suggesting one. In short, don’t spend the time on this one. It’s not worth it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books