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Becky by Sarah May

Disclaimer: There are NO spoilers in this review!

Becky by Sarah May is the brilliant retelling of William Thackery’s Vanity Fair, yet within this retelling May has managed to make these characters and plot all her own. By lifting the likes of Becky Sharp, Amelia Sedley, and Rawdon Crawley from their original 1800’s setting and placing them amidst the exploding and cut-throat world of journalism in 90’s London, May has created a fantastic book exploring female ambition through the ruthless journey of Rebecca Sharp.

We follow Becky as she navigates the many stages of her career, from just starting out as a nanny for Pitt Crawley to absolutely dominating the Mercury, the newspaper which she writes for. However, May always makes sure that we, as readers, remember that Becky is meant to be an anti-hero and she does that by giving glimpses into her upbringing and childhood which, of course, she would rather remain concealed. We see how Becky has come to be this ambitious and determined woman, whilst also possessing the selfish and ruthless qualities of the industry she has surrounded herself in.

Throughout the novel we are shown how Becky has managed to get where she is, and we are constantly reminded of her characteristics. Yet there are some points where you think

Surely she knows this isn’t right?

And the fact is, she does. With the 90’s era tabloids, we see the rise of publicised scandals and what Becky is willing to do to make sure her newspaper gets the headline first. The stories and situations Becky delves into on the road to success is what ultimately makes her demise all the more anticipated. It’s almost as if you’re waiting for one thing to be the final push over the edge, what story is going to be the final nail in the coffin?

I couldn’t put Becky down once I had started reading, and after I had finished I found myself telling everyone to read it. Although it presents itself as a Vanity Fair retelling, it is so much more. In my opinion, Sarah May has taken the foundation of it and built something completely new and compelling, definitely one to read!

- Tierney


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