©2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
The narrator for this book was born to give us the beauty of the spoken words of Thackeray. There is no better way to follow the escapades of the characters of Vanity Fair!
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
The characters who populate Thackery???s Vanity Fair (1848), set in England and Europe during and after the Napoleonic Wars, are a cast of decadent lords, pious snobs, pedantic teachers, sycophantic schemers, hedonistic spinsters, tyrannical fathers, imperious brats, philandering generals, gambling rakes, gossiping servants, false friends, faithful toadies, and many more. Unlike in Dickens, there is no perfect person. Thackery plays his ???puppets??? through scenes that are comical, appalling, suspenseful, moving, or revelatory. He keeps us alert, peering through layers of irony. And he has such empathy for humanity that he makes most of his characters, even the feckless or false or cruel ones, at least sometimes sympathetic.
Becky Sharp, the ???poor little friendless orphan??? who becomes a bohemian adventuress, who remains throughout her life selfish, scheming, heartless, and ???artful,??? who abominably neglects her son, alarmingly attracts the husbands, brothers, and sons of her friends, and comically mimics everyone behind their backs, and yet who is capable of genuine feeling, is one of the most fascinating anti-heroines in literature. Is she a plucky survivor or a wicked siren? Her foil, the seemingly pure, simple, loving, and good Amelia Sedley, is also compelling, for with selfish selflessness she indulges in her Angel in the House, submissive and dependent feminine saintliness to such a degree that she harms herself and her true lover.
The reader John Castle is great! With perfect pauses, emphases, wit, and emotion, he engagingly reads all the characters??? voices with their different accents, personalities, genders, and moods, whether a stingy hyena-faced old country baron, a drunken cockney footman, a boastful Irish officer???s wife, a mercenary French maid, or a foppish German diplomat--everyone.
Thackery???s ???historian??? narrator, who???s telling a ???true??? story based on the accounts of the principle characters he has met, satirizes early 19th century British and European culture (class, religion, education, business, war, tourism, etc.) so as to expose human vanity in general. We are all driven by vain desires and feel unfulfilled after getting what we want. We are all selfish, artful, and self- and other-deluding. The novel may seem misanthropic. But Thackery is so good at making us laugh, groan, cry, or think, that if the novel (???without a hero???) is not uplifting, it is entertaining, stimulating, and often moving.
In spite of the slow second half, Vanity Fair's Becky Sharpe still stands as a model for the anti-heroine.
Thackeray is a bit heavy handed in the latter part of the novel where he must have felt compelled to moralize and show a more degenerate side of Becky, done at the expense of sublimating the highly entertaining malice of her behavior. The "nice" folks grow rather boring in contrast to Becky.
But Vanity Fair was a shot heard round the world. Trollope and Mrs. Gaskell were friends and admirers of Thackeray and must have been influenced in some of their character depictions by his portrayal of the charming and ruthless Becky.
I have read Vanity Fair before, so there were no surprises here.
It is a well written and interesting novel.
My 5 star rating is as much for John Castle's narration, as it is for the novel. Superb!
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This classic is wonderfully written--insightful and extremely funny and entertaining. If all narrators could be as fabulous as John Castle, how happy I would be. He's a true actor who gives the characters their own voices, and his accents are spot on. I highly recommend this book.
Great story; much better than the movie.
Had Becky Sharp been born in 1975, she would have been congratulated and esteemed!
I agree with the reviewer who said that John Castle was born to narrate this book. I don't think his performance can be bettered. I had no idea that Vanity Fair was so good, or that Thackeray was such an interesting writer. It's hard to be in Dicken's shadow, I suppose. This was a great buy.
Yes, after I listen to other stories I have downloaded.
The charming wit and the author's aside comments to the reader.
No, but I will.
I do not see how this book successfully made into film, because the "best" parts are the author's comments and interior monologes. The book is so rich, and its power is in these elements.
Humorous, elegant and sly.
Castle's performance really enhances Thackeray's humor and insights re. British society at that time. He also has a wonderful voice and does a great job portraying the many different characters with appropriate accents, etc.
Hugely entertaining. I loved it.
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