"A girl was never ruined by books," my mother used to say. I've spent most of my life trying to prove that wrong.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Corrupt and the Foolish: Becky and Emmie in Vanity Fair

This summer, as I said earlier,  I'm reading about corruption for a new fiction project. I asked friends (real and virtual) to suggest books that dealt with the topic in June and got a most interesting list. One of them was the classic, Vanity Fair, which I thought I'd read before.

But I discovered I hadn't, and I'm very glad that I decided to check it out "again." 

Two women are at the heart of this huge book: poor and clever Rebecca Sharp and poor and boring Amelia Sedley. The time is the beginning of the 19th century, roughly between 1815 and 1832, and the scene is England for the most part. Published in 1848 in installments, the novel is well over 800 pages long but the reader shouldn't be scared off by its bulk. It's full of humour, irony and sly comments about how the rich get rich and the poor get poorer, that resonant in this time of rising inequality. 

Becky Sharp, who at the beginning is just a poor orphan girl who has to look out for herself, becomes a schemer, and--we're led to suspect--someone not above a little creative chemistry in order to keep herself in the styler to which she'd like to become accustomed. Emmie is a fool for love, but luckily has protectors who keep her from "falling" into the sort of behavior that is Becky's lot. Becky is corrupt, I suppose, but it's perfectly clear why she is, and my sympathies are with her far more than with the saintly Emmie. 

It took me ten days of reading evenings to get through  the book.  The fact that I went through it so quicly says a lot about how engaging it is.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

River Music Giveaway Results, and a Nice Review

In the flurry of activity around here, I forgot to post the Goodreads Giveaway results.  The lucky three winners of a copy of River Music are:
Barry Kazimer of Campbell River, BC, Kelley Burrow of Morenc, MI and Caitlin Wardle of Adelaide, SA.   The books will be in the mail in a couple of days. 

And the latest on the review front:

Ian McGillis writes about River Music  in The Gazette. "Swept up by River Music: Mary Soderstrom's new novel charts course of pioneering pianist.: