It’s a monster of read if you’re not up to the classic challenge that it can be, but is overall a pretty interesting story. The movie of the same title starring Reese Witherspoon in 2004, while beautiful in costumes, cast and sets, falls a bit short of the literary tale. Of course almost all movies pale in comparison to the original tale of the novel, but this one I found to be missing far too much. Though the worst adaptations still remain The Count of the Monte Cristo (2002) and the ending of The Devil Wears Prada.
The story stars Becky Sharp, a most intriguing character that you’ll never be able to figure out if you should trust or not. She graduates from a young ladies school with her chum Amelia Sedley, who’s betrothed to George Osborn. Becky takes on a governess position with the wealthy Sir Pitt and wins his favor, but upon his proposal to her, finds that she has eloped with his youngest son, Rawdon. Rawdon, having been his aunt (and Sir Pitt’s half sister) favorite, angers her and she cuts him out of her will. A will which was of great interest to all members of the Crawley family as she had no heirs but lots and lots of money!
Meanwhile, her friend Amelia’s family in bankrupted, disrupting the betrothal to George. They elope anyway and George is disowned. George begins to regret his choice in Amelia and tries to instead to run away with Becky, who likes the chase, but not to be caught. Whether or not she’ll return George’s affections is of little concern, as the Napoleonic Wars have broken out, both Rawdon and George having to report for duty.
There could be a lot of parallels drawn from Vanity Fair (1847) to Gone with the Wind (1936), and the Scarlett O’Hara character, mostly through where Becky’s concerns lie, drive to succeed, charms and manipulation skills. Plus, there’s a war, flirtation with married men and a lot themes having to do with money and wealth.
From here the story gets even more complex and twisted, but I don’t want to spoil it. There is much much more from this point on, including some very interesting scenes in which Becky propels herself through the ranks of society. The movie version showcases this section well and excels at putting Thackeray’s story into pictures.
As usual read the book before seeing the movie, but if you don’t have the hours to dedicate to pounding through it, or sorting through Thackeray’s long and wordy descriptions, there are many television adaptations. The film adaptations are pretty spread out, before the 2004 version there was only the 1932 version. Go with the 2004.
On the Bookalicious Scale: 2-Nibble. Good read a little bit at of the time, but don’t overead, consume modestly.