'Which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? Or, having it, is satisfied?'
Thus asks Thackeray in his gloriously entertaining saga, as a vibrant cast of characters scheme and scramble for life's prizes on the crowded stage of 'Vanity Fair'. And no one is better equipped in the struggle for wealth and worldly success than Becky Sharp, Thackeray's supreme creation. Brilliant, alluring and ruthless, she defies her poverty-stricken background to clamber up the social ladder, while her sentimental companion Amelia longs only for caddish soldier George.
As the two heroines make their way through the tawdry glamour of Regency society, battles - military and domestic - are fought; fortunes are made and lost. And amid the fast-paced action stands Dobbin with his unrequited love for Amelia. A true gentleman in a corrupt world, he brings pathos and depth to Thackeray's epic tale of love and social adventure.
'Vanity Fair' is a truly great novel. It is a rich and resplendent story of English society during the Napoleonic Wars. In it there is, to quote Thackeray, "a great quantity of eating and drinking, making love and jilting, laughing and the contrary, smoking, cheating, fighting, dancing and fiddling: there are bullies pushing about, bucks ogling the women, knaves picking pockets, policemen on the look-out, quacks bawling in front of their booths, and yokels looking up at the tinselled dancers and poor old rouged tumblers."
Through this free-wheeling melee of brilliant improvisations sail Becky Sharp, one of literature's most resourceful, engaging and amoral characters, and Amelia Sedley, her less lustrous but more ambiguous foil.