The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp By: Sarra Manning
Published By: Harper Collins UK 6th September 2018
Buy It: here
What The Blurb Says:
A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, VANITY FAIR, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp
Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.
Becky Sharp has big dreams and no connections. Determined to swap the gutters of Soho for the glamorous, exclusive world behind the velvet rope, Becky will do anything to achieve fame, riches and status.
Whether it’s seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, or befriending silly debutantes and rich old ladies, Becky Sharp is destined for great things. Because it might be tough at the top but it’s worse at the bottom.
From London to Paris and beyond, Becky Sharp is going places – so get the hell out of her way…
What I Say:
Thank you very much to Netgalley and HarperCollins UK for the advanced e-copy of The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp.
First of all, I have a confession to make – I have never read the original Vanity Fair, and after reading The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp, I don’t think it could ever live up to this brilliant book!
This is such a stunning novel, which I loved from the first chapter. Sarra Manning has brilliantly captured the United Kingdom with all its faults, celebrity obsessions, and it is filled with pitch perfect observations about what it means to be a woman in modern Britain.
Becky Sharp is one of those characters who you know you should be appalled by, but from the very first pages, you know that you won’t be able to resist following her on her adventures through society. From being runner up on Big Brother, to being a globe trotting philanthropist, Becky does it all with a calmness and dispassionate nature. Every event in her life is an opportunity, every person she encounters is a stepping stone to the future she feels she deserves.
As she befriends Amelia Sedley, the winner of Big Brother – who just happens to have very rich parents and a doting brother who is besotted with Becky, she starts on her path to the top. Becky knows that a social media following and numerous likes are what makes the world go round, and she knows that to get what she wants, she has to use what God gave her- her brains and beauty to move through and impress those around her.
The story of Becky’s rise and fall (and ultimate revenge) is a glorious, whip-smart and perfectly timed exploration of a woman who knows exactly what she has to do to make her way in the world. The other main characters – Amelia, Dobbin, Jos, George and Rawdon all have important parts to play, but this is Becky’s story which is as it should be. As she rises through the ranks of society, first as a very reluctant nanny to the Crawley family, then as the wife of Rawdon Crawley, an up and coming actor, Becky understands at every turn what she needs to get out of the people in her world to move onto the next level. She relishes being in control of her destiny, and it is only when she meets the distinctly gruesome Lord Steyne that it appears Becky has finally met her match. Lord Steyne is not a man to take no for an answer, and when Becky refuses to comply, he uses the very media she has relied on to bring her world tumbling down..
Sarra Manning is so talented at bringing to the fore the complex and flawed way in which Becky can so easily gain notoriety and fame for just being Becky. She has no discernible talent, but she is completely aware of how powerful a social media presence is. The more likes and followers she gets, the more companies want a part of her, and the more people start to listen to what she has to say, so the more companies want to be part of Becky’s life. Having to post a carefully manufactured and curated world is worth it if it means that she can be someone.
For me, one of the most interesting themes of the novel, something that Sarra refers to, is that Becky is regarded with suspicion and distaste for climbing society with a ruthlesss ambition and disregard for those she tramples over to get there. Would this story be regarded differently if Becky was male and not working class? Our perspective and reaction to Becky’s story is undoubtedly coloured by the fact this is a street smart working class woman who knows exactly how to work the system and the people around her to get exactly what she wants. The novel is packed full of relevant references which keeps it interesting and resonant – from the Women’s March to appalling phone hacking controversies, as well as the #MeToo movement.
The Rise and Fall Of Becky Sharp is one of my favourite books of the year. It is a laugh out loud funny, brilliantly written satire, with a heroine who leaps off the page and into your heart. Rather than remaking Thackeray’s novel for television (again), The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp is begging to be turned into a series, a modern day tale of how when a smart woman decides she wants the life she deserves, we can only look on in admiration and hope that we all learn to stand up for what we want too!
I loved it (and can’t wait to get a real copy to savour all over again) !