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Vanity Fair [AudioGo]

Narrated by: John Castle
Length: 31 hrs and 1 min
5 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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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.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Clare
  • 24-08-2009

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.

48 of 50 people found this review helpful

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  • Claire
  • 11-11-2015

As Sharp as Becky

Where does Vanity Fair rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It is a demanding listen and you have to apply a certain dedication to following it as it's very long and covers a lengthy time period, meaning characters and circumstances change at a pace, but I took a lot from it - and, my word, Thackeray was a clever, incisive gent! Written with a relish which resonates today as loudly as any other time, at least it did with me. 'It will make you laugh, it will make you cry', and it will make you highlight favourite passages in your physical/kindle copy!

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

The opening chapters have you thinking it may be another Jane Eyre, but it's nothing of the sort. I'd compare it to Austen, Dickens, even Galsworthy (well, compare Galsworthy to Thackeray, not the other way around): all the great chroniclers of humanity and all its characteristics - depicters of shrewd social climbers navigating their position in society as best they can. I love a good old fashioned saga following the fortunes of many characters over time, and this is an epic.

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

Well you have to love Becky and her usually dispassionate scheming, and hopeless lovesick Dobbin, the novel's moral centre - but I especially enjoyed John Castle's reading of Jos Sedley: great fun. I also liked the way he portrayed Rawdon and his maturation throughout the course of the novel. Very sad ending.

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

Too much is never enough...

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Nejra
  • 01-02-2011

Absolute pleasure!

This book was well narrated, and very entertaining overall. Once I started listening to it, I couldn't stop. I definitely recommend it!

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    out of 5 stars
  • Andy
  • 07-04-2013

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!

36 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Curran
  • 02-01-2013

excellent reading of an engaging book

I completely agree with other reviewers : you will be surprised how quickly so many hours of this book fly past. They were all tremendously enjoyable! Thank you, John Castle, for so expert a reading which never missed the sense (this in my experience is unusual), and on the contrary brought out all the humour, the drama, and in particular the wit of the book. When I read Vanity Fair many years ago, I was a little daunted by its length and density; listening to such a masterly rendition of it, I relished every chapter and will certainly listen again.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Susie
  • 01-07-2014

Really enjoyed this book

What made the experience of listening to Vanity Fair [AudioGo] the most enjoyable?

The narrator John Castle was exceptional. I really felt involved in the story and was so wrapped up in it I forgot someone was actually reading it to me, so real we're the characters. I looked forward to each and every chapter.

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

I enjoyed this book as much as Bleak House, another classic written by a master storyteller

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

John Castle enabled me to feel the characters in more depth than if I had read the book. When reading I get distracted by any spelling mistakes and tend to skip through passages too quickly missing the emphasis placed on a single phrase or a play on words. This audio book opened up a new level of enjoyment for me.

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

There were several moments in the book which made me smile , not so much about the story line but the observations of the author on his fellow man

Any additional comments?

Worth buying even if you have read the book before. John Castle made it for me and I will be looking for other books narrated by him

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Bookfan
  • 31-01-2017

An Old Favourite

I've read the book several times and seen two different TV adaptations, so clearly, this is a novel I like. This isn't the first time I've listened to this adaptation either. It's very well performed, and I especially commend the reader's mastery of several different accents that bring the characters to life.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Cara Moretta
  • 07-07-2014

Two Intertwined Tales Plus Satirical Commentory

What did you like most about Vanity Fair [AudioGo]?

The interweaving of the two storylines each featuring a main character of very different morals and attitude to life.

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

Perhaps " Persuasion", as both books portray the experiences and ambitions of two very different female characters.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

Too many to decide between them....a feast of wonderful scenes!

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

No, it has been enjoyed over a period of about a month.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended as a " holiday listen"

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • V. Masterman
  • 05-12-2009

Compulsive Listening

This is a first class narration of a wonderful and absorbing book. I had to make a lengthy car journey recently in dreadful weather conditions and hearing the adventures of the characters of Vanity Fair lessened my frustration and made this difficult journey much easier. Although it is a very long book I would not wish a single word to be omitted so splendid is the characterisation and so skilful the reading. I know that this is one book I will return to again. Thoroughly recommended.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • pterodactyl
  • 20-04-2017

Long and delightful.

Excellent mordant overview of early nineteenth century society, worth settling in for the long haul. Very well read by John Castle.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful