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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.
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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Constance on 02-03-11
A book that was meant to be read aloud!
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!
21 of 21 people found this review helpful
By James Abraham on 05-18-13
The Best Narration, One of the Greats
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.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Clare on 08-24-09
A glorious romp of a novel!
This may be an alarmingly big book, but this audio version is read with consummate skill, lashings of irony and knowing narratorial commentary delivered beautifully by the reader, and it flies by like a novel a fifth of its size.
Peopled with historical characters and situations, such as the battle of Waterloo, Thackeray almost fools his reader into believing this novel to be biography. But then his narrator is unable to resist clever asides and witty commentary, reminding us of the author's skill as a novelist and his presence. The narrator is unwilling to forgive any vanity or flaw however slight, and although Thackeray's subtitle announces that there is no hero, the colour and life breathed into his characters and the balance with which he portrays them makes it hard not to relate to them, and to love or loathe them with as great enthusiasm as if they were known to us in our own lives. Tubby Joss with his ridiculous waistcoats, the vile Osborne Snr, kind and loyal Dobbin and indomitable Becky and all of the other characters become part of your life for the few glorious hours in which you inhabit their crazy world.
Tremendously entertaining and easy to listen to, I heartily recommend this audio book to anyone who enjoys a good story well told.
33 of 34 people found this review helpful
By Andy on 04-07-13
Bubble and squeak
You can sometimes think of reading the classics as like eating your greens, definately good for you but not that much fun.
Vanity Fair is rewarding and fun.
The novel without a hero thing is just one example of the the fun the author has with his readers. The hero is of course the author himself gossiping and commenting on the action and on women and their weaknesses, whilst creating a towering strong female lead in Becky Sharpe who does whatever it takes to make the best of her lot and never whines. You can't help but love her, though you know you shouldn't.
Don't be put off by the length you will be sorry when it it is all over. As others have said it is a brilliant and funny performance.
This is bubble and squeak, the fun way to eat your greens, don't miss it!
15 of 15 people found this review helpful