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Vanity Fair Audiobook

Vanity Fair

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Publisher's Summary

Exclusively from Audible

Set during the time of the Napoleonic Wars, this classic gives a satirical picture of a worldly society. The audiobook revolves around the exploits of the impoverished but beautiful and devious Becky Sharp who craves wealth and a position in society. Calculating and determined to succeed, she charms, deceives and manipulates everyone she meets.

A story of early 19th-century English society, it takes its title from the place designated as the centre of human corruption in John Bunyan's 17th-century allegory Pilgrim's Progress.

Receiving popular and critical success on first publication, the novel is considered Thackeray's masterpiece, and this satire of society is as relevant now as when it first appeared. In 2003, Vanity Fair was listed at Number 122 on the BBC's The Big Read poll of the UK's best-loved books.

Thackeray was born in Calcutta in 1811. After his father's death, he was sent to be educated in England at five years old, while is mother remarried in India. The canings and abuses he received in private boarding schools formed a basis for some of his work as did the culture of Anglo-Indians which also featured prominently.

Narrator Biography

After training at RADA, John's professional career began in 1964 at the Regent's Park Theatre.

Film credits include Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up, The Lion in Winter, Man of La Mancha, King David, Antony and Cleopatra, Robocop 2 and The Sparrow. Theatre credits include Bloody Sunday (The Tricycle Theatre), Claudius in Hamlet (National Theatre), Rat in the Skull (Duke of York's Theatre), End Game (Tron Theatre, Glasgow), Shylock in The Merchant of Venice (London Shakespeare Group), Infidelities (The Boulevard Theatre), and Breaking the Code (The Comedy Theatre). Television credits include Tracate Middoth, The Fixer, Spooks, Poirot, Silent Witness, The Holocaust on Trial, Casualty, Princes in the Tower, Gods and Generals, Fight Against Slavery, Ben Hall, I, Claudius, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and Lillie.

Public Domain (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (444 )
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4.6 (353 )
5 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    john vineyard ithaca, ny USA 10-29-12
    john vineyard ithaca, ny USA 10-29-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Terrific perfomance of a timeless classic"
    Would you listen to Vanity Fair again? Why?

    Yes, becuase the quality of Castle's performance is so good.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Vanity Fair?

    Far too many to select one. He's very good at building a long story arc that culminates with some type of reconciliation between people who have long been apart or estranged.


    Have you listened to any of John Castle’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    10 X better than Downton Abbey


    Any additional comments?

    Of the many audio novels I have listened to, Castle's performance here is one of the most rewarding of all. Thackeray's narrative skill, characterizations, and plotting are at the very highest level. One of the very best.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mavep Albury, Australia 10-05-12
    Mavep Albury, Australia 10-05-12

    Love reading, and now listening to books being read. I like poetry and classic literature and also detective fiction and some thrillers.

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    "A book to listen to, and listen again."

    This well known classic is captivating. A story of a world of social climbing and search for wealth, set amidst the background of the Napoleonic wars. The Narration is excellent, like listening to a play.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Buffy 07-28-17
    Buffy 07-28-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Entertaining"
    What did you love best about Vanity Fair?

    The sudden changes of events and the author's commentary.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The way things frequently changed.


    What does John Castle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He brought the characters to life.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sjoukje #2 06-25-17
    Sjoukje #2 06-25-17
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    "Excellent!"
    What made the experience of listening to Vanity Fair [AudioGo] the most enjoyable?

    Great story & Narration!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Rebecca ended up being a nice person in the end.


    Have you listened to any of John Castle’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Main characters finally got together!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica 06-06-17
    Jessica 06-06-17 Member Since 2015

    I love literature, but especially children's lit and the Victorian novel. I'm also trying to love American literature (one novel at a time).

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    "Surprisingly Biting"

    I read this because I wanted to get through the classics but I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. Thackeray is hilarious and I kept finding myself laughing aloud as I listened. As relevant today as the day it was published.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zrinka 05-27-17
    Zrinka 05-27-17 Member Since 2016
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    "Loved every minute!!"

    This book is probably my most favorite of all the books I've ever read .. It gives brilliant, timelss (and very satirical) view of human society. Its main characters can be found walking around us, almost two centuries later and I am sure, another century ahead, one would still be able to find its contemporary Rebeca's and Amelia's and other of the characters, their struggles, fortunes and misfortunes, successes and failures ...
    As long as there are people, this vanity fair is sure to play on. Circumstances may change but the main principles remain. That is what makes this book and its author so special for me.

    I read the book twice before and wanted to try its effect by listening to it as well.
    I purpsely picked the male narator as I was going for the feel of the author. And that was exactly what I've got!!
    The narrator was excellent and I felt as if I am listening to Mr. Thackeray's own voice from the past!
    Overall, I enjoyed this book and narrator very much!! .. And I believe it was the skill of the narrator that made it for me even better than it was while I was reading it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    W 05-17-17
    W 05-17-17
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    "Great Narrator/Bloated Story"
    Where does Vanity Fair [AudioGo] rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Like many 19th century novels, Vanity Fair is too bloated for its own good. The book could have been have as long and twice as interesting. That said, the narration by John Castle was superb.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Customer 05-06-17
    Customer 05-06-17
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    "Excellent narrator."

    After the first 30 minutes, you will be enthralled. Good, classic, engrossing story, with great characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    marguerite allred-crawford Clarksville, TN, US 04-20-17
    marguerite allred-crawford Clarksville, TN, US 04-20-17
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    "never goes out of style"

    Though it takes awhile and Thackeray loves to digress his keen insight into human nature shown here is never stale. When all is said at last and "the puppets are put back in the box" I always wish there was more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon 02-16-17
    Jon 02-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Vanity Fair"

    It's such a complex story fluctuating between the satire of Hogarth and the romance of Dickens that the narrator shifts tone and character to create the play acting world of Vanity Fair that's precisely what Thackeray meant. So it's a prolonged joy ride into the post Napoleonic world depicted with a subtle savagery, which always catches you unawares.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Cathubodua
    8/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Highly entertaining"
    What made the experience of listening to Vanity Fair the most enjoyable?

    Vanity Fair is one of the great Victorian novels, with a huge cast of eccentric characters. John Castle brought them all to life as separate and very memorable entities, including the narrator, who has so much to say on so many subjects.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Vanity Fair?

    Jos Sedley at Vauxhall Gardens (and after); the 'little woman's' conquest of Queen's Crawley; Amelia's conquest of Brussels; any scene involving Mrs Major O'Dowd; old Miss Crawley swimming at Brighton; Becky's presentation at court… so many memorable moments!


    Which character – as performed by John Castle – was your favourite?

    A certain Crawley of the Guards.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This is a book to savour, to take a couple of chapters at a time and really enjoy being along for (quite a long) ride. Despite the length, it ends too soon.


    Any additional comments?

    Thackeray on exceptional form.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • VersaillesThree
    7/31/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful writing"
    Would you listen to Vanity Fair again? Why?

    Oh definitely!
    I've seen various TV/film adaptations so knew the basics of it all, but this unabridged reading leaves nothing out of Thackeray's excellent tome.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I absolutely loved every word of the author's in-depth descriptions, particularly of his characters, warts and all, and you can tell the ones he quite liked but also those he felt were ridiculous.

    I listened to this coincidentally at the time of the 200 year anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, so many parts of the novel all came together, and loving social history I was encouraged to do some research and to fit more pieces together of the whole Napoleonic era.


    What does John Castle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    He has a very easy voice to listen to as narrator but his characters were excellent, and his many foreign accents were very impressive!

    I only wish there were more John Castle readings available..


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Lawd no!
    At over 31 hours and such an in-depth novel, you had to concentrate most of the time and one's brain needed a break regularly!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ms
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "To be taken with a pinch of salt"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Having started to read Vanity Fair without making much progress, I would recommend this audiobook as a way of getting into it. You find yourself quickly immersed in the world and get swept along by the narrative and the characters.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I am still listening to the book and so far, there are quite a few favourite characters, mostly on account of how outlandish they are. Of course Becky Sharp has to be included because, although her behaviour is awful, I can't help admiring her chutzpa. I also like the old Sir Pitt Crawley because he snubs convention and has a wonderful country accent. Besides the simpering Amelia Sedley, there does seem to be one decent character, who is unappreciated by all the others - that is William Dobbin. Finally, I am delighted by the presence of one George Osborne in a satirical novel!


    What about John Castle’s performance did you like?

    He delivers the narrative in appropriately measured tones that create the world and the period very well. His deadpan expression at times is a perfect foil to the cutting humour.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Human nature in all its glory.


    Any additional comments?

    Written in the 19th century, it contains language and references that are shockingly racist to a 21st century ear. Of course, Thackeray could be satirising these very attitudes.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • J Eaton
    England
    7/20/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful listen"
    Where does Vanity Fair rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very highly. For such a long title it was never anything but a pleasure to spend some time listening.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Vanity Fair?

    The scene in Brussels where Becky is selling her horses for extortionate prices.


    Which character – as performed by John Castle – was your favourite?

    All of John's characterisations were wonderful but I particularly enjoyed old Sir Pitt Crawley


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I giggled constantly throughout the book and occasionally said aloud 'Becky!!!' in exasperation.


    Any additional comments?

    My first experience of Thackeray - and certainly it won't be my last!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Brenda
    6/28/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Pure Magic"
    Where does Vanity Fair rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The best by a distance.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Of course Becky Sharpe. Such a feisty character for her time.


    Have you listened to any of John Castle’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    Not yet, but cannot wait for the next.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Laugh, brilliant humour.


    Any additional comments?

    Cannot wait to read again.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Stanley Sokol
    London
    6/15/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "True masterpiece"

    Highly entertaining novel, greatly describes the Napoleon era from the point of view of high society,while leaving unnecessary details which can be found in other more historically oriented.

    The book is also extremely well narrated with rich vocal range and emotion.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. P. D. Selman
    Kent, U.K.
    4/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A good read... if a little long"
    If you could sum up Vanity Fair in three words, what would they be?

    Witty, surprising, long.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Having never read any Thackery before, I was pleasantly surprised by how funny it was in places.


    What does John Castle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    Castle's narration just suits the material perfectly. Spot on.


    If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    'Come for the costumes; stay for the gags!'


    Any additional comments?

    If this book has a fault, it's that it's a little too long. I like long books but this one felt like it could have done with a little editorial trimming. Don't that put you off, though; it's worth sticking with.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    8/24/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "brilliant performance by J. Castle, epic story."

    brilliant performance by J. Castle, epic satire spanning years. very much recommend.l this to anyone who has always wondered what Vanity Fair is about but thought it might be boring.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • A S C SEPHENS
    11/20/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Vanity Fair - what a good story.....a good old fashioned story of love and life."

    This was a pleasure to hear .
    Long books so daunting to read - but to listen to the spoken word is a joy.
    Love the historical detail and language, read v.pleasingly.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Nadine
    Hunston, West Sussex, United Kingdom
    2/28/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Wonderful Classic"
    Would you listen to Vanity Fair again? Why?

    This is my second time of listening to this book and I appreciated it more this time. Wonderful escapism and characters, with a final satisfying ending.


    What other book might you compare Vanity Fair to, and why?

    Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Another story about war in France and fabulous characters


    What does John Castle bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The narration is lovely, bringing the characters alive, I particularly like his portrayal of the young George Osborne.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Definitely, I always have an emotional reaction. There was a lot of very good humour and I'm bound to have cried at various points.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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