Saturday, July 30, 2011

Half Time Report

It is taking me forever to read Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, even though I am both reading, and listening to it in my car on CD.  Right now I am about at the half way mark.  The first 200 pages were painfully slow.  Then, around page 300, in chapter 27, the story really picked up.

In chapter 27, Amelia, who is married to George Osborn, and an old friend of Rececca Crawley, moves to join her husband and his regiment in Belgium, as they prepare to battle Napoleon's army.  Apparently this was quite common, and the British soldiers had their wives, servants, and household belongings with them.  Soon the battles begin, and our narrator apologizes that he is not a military reporter, so our story will remain with the civilians.  This should have been my first clue that something good was coming.

As I kept reading, the story of the civilians who didn't go to war, but who could hear the battle near them, reminded me of another all time favorite book, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  In Vanity Fair, Amelia's role is very similar to Melanie's in GWTW, as both women are delicate, well liked, married, and pregnant, as the battle approaches.  Rebecca plays the role of Scarlett, as she uses the war as an opportunity for social advancement and flirting with married men.  Unlike Scarlett, but somewhat like Rhett, Rebecca also manages to make financial gains by selling what she has at inflated prices.

At chapter 33, the story returned to the Crawley family's inheritance watch, as they wait for their aunt to die, and it seems to have slowed down again.  This afternoon, I will resume reading with chapter 36, which is titled "How to Live Well on Nothing a Year".  That could be the title of a current best seller!

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