On Monday, while Tiny slept, I took my sandwiches out into our sunny backyard, and finished ‘Vanity Fair’.
For the past week, I have felt so close to the end of this novel, but it seemed to still be so far away; it was refreshing to seize the moment to sit in the hot sun, and enjoy reading those last few pages, and the sense of achievement when I got there was immense.
Set in 1800s London (with a handful of sojourns into Europe and India), ‘Vanity Fair’ is a swashbuckling account of life in a very materialistic, greedy Victorian society. Everyone wants money, and that seems to be the focus of all existence; “friendships” are based on who throws the best dinner parties, or is dressed in the most expensive frocks, or adorned with the biggest array of jewels, and no one seems to care how these were obtained.
It’s a novel about flirtation, unrequited love, dangerous liaisons and outrageous lies. It focuses on the intertwined lives of the two central characters, Amelia and Rebecca, and their parallel-but-divergent lifestyles and ideals.
There were moments of typical Victorian monotony, but the narrator makes many amusing observations throughout the story, and his commentary is generally very adroit and insightful. In fact, without it, there would be moments when the reader is left wondering if they’ve truly grasped what is going on.
Its size alone could be quite daunting, but this is a novel well-worth persevering with, in my opinion.
Over Easter, I chose to take a smaller book away with us: ‘The Haunted Hotel’, by Wilkie Collins. I had heard nothing about it prior, but having enjoyed ‘The Woman in White’ last year, I was more than willing to give it a go.
Set in 1860s London and Venice (I do like me some Victorian novels!), this ghost story is full of intrigue, suspense and deception, and a plot that keeps you on your toes. My favourite aspect of ‘The Haunted Hotel’ was that you were kept guessing right up to the very end, and that the crux of the story unfolded in the last seven or eight pages.
Definitely a recommended read!
Tiny’s books du jour are an eclectic mix that he received for his birthday.
He loves ‘Room on the Broom’ (by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler), which is aimed at four- to eight-year-olds; it’s by the same team who brought us ‘The Gruffalo’, and the rhyming story is quite delightful. The pictures are also great, and Tiny spends a lot of time pointing out new things he notices each time.
He’s also really into ‘The Potty Train’ (by David Hochman and Ruth Kennison) and ‘Even Firefighters go to the Potty’ (by Wendy and Naomi Wax), which is great, because we’re nearing that stage in his development. The friend who bought them for him said that having books really helped her little boy with his toilet training, so we’re more than happy to have these at our disposable.
He loves the illustrations in ‘The Potty Train’, and giggles madly at each “character” who uses the potty in ‘Even Firefighters go to the Potty’. Fingers crossed they will encourage him in the right direction when the time comes!
If you’re after some inspiration on what book to pick up next, why not check out 1001 Books to Read Before You Die?
The reviews are great, and I know I have added quite a few books to my ever-growing list of ‘Must Read’s!