Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp
by Sarra Manning

Publication date: August 20th 2018
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 400


A hilarious contemporary retelling of the classic society novel, Vanity Fair, featuring the irrepressible Becky Sharp

Beautiful, brilliant, ruthless – nothing can stop Becky Sharp.

Determined to leave her poverty-stricken roots behind her, Becky Sharp is going to take every opportunity offered to her to climb to the top. Whether it’s using her new BFF Amelia Sedley to step up into the rarified world of London’s upper classes, or seducing society’s most eligible bachelors, Becky Sharp is destined for great things – at any cost..

From London to Paris and beyond, the world is there for Becky’s taking – even though some people are determined to stop her along the way…

Source: Goodreads


“The Rise & Fall of Becky Sharp” was the main feature of Reading in Heels’ September box but I haven’t got round to reading it until now. Described as a modern retelling of Vanity Fair, the story brings social climber Becky Sharp up to date in the world of reality TV shows and Instagram celebrities.

First of all, I have to admit that I’ve never read Vanity Fair, but after doing a bit of online research, I started the book with a rough idea of what was in store. Rather than meeting at school as in the original, Becky and Amelia Sedley meet in the Big Brother house, where they are the only two housemates remaining in the final. Thrust into the public eye, Becky and Emmy make a number of public appearances together and soon become best friends. When Becky moves in with the Sedley family her eyes are opened to the world of possibilities that come with money and class.

A lot of this book is good chick-lit, but I found myself cringing at so much of it. Somethings were very obvious and others absolutely ridiculous. I felt like the modern retelling didn’t really work properly. Some things were fine; Becky becoming an Instagram influencer is probably very likely after coming second in a series of Big Brother and posh boy Jos running a highly successful protein ball business is definitely something I could see happening, but some aspects of the story didn’t feel very 2018 at all. It felt that the author focused a little too much of being true to the original book, especially when it came to the pointless plot point of Becky being hired as a nanny to the bratty Crawley children, despite having zero experience, a lack of references and no interest whatsoever in the job. I’m sure there would been a more suitable (and realistic) way of bringing Rawdon into the picture, like at a party, in a coffee shop or even through a dating app!

The characters here are all terrible and I realised about half way through that I didn’t really like any of them. I think that’s probably the intention of the author, but I didn’t really help with my overall opinion of the book. Amelia was mopey and pathetic, Becky’s agent Babs was insufferable and by the time Rawdon’s gambling debt led to the threat of having his fingers chopped off I’d almost lost all interest in what happened to any of them.

Overall rating: Parts of this book are decent chick-lit that I enjoyed, however the rest of the book was too unbelievable for me. I wasn’t a fan of the characters or the main plot points and felt that some of the book was still stuck in the past with the original. I’d give “The Rise & Fall of Becky Sharp” two stars.

6 thoughts on “Book Review: The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp by Sarra Manning

  1. […] Is it bad to admit I’ve never read “Vanity Fair”? This month’s book is said to be a modern retelling of the story, bringing Becky Sharp up to date and I’m kind of glad to be going in without any background knowledge on the plot. I’m not totally won over by the blurb but happy to have my first impressions proved wrong when I get around to reading it!(update: see my review here) […]


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