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Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

by William Makepeace Thackeray

Analysis: Steaminess Rating

Exactly how steamy is this story?

R

If you've got the right kind of mindset and can spot the double entendres, this novel is actually pretty racy, especially for Victorian times, when anything sexual had to be put into euphemized, wink-wink, nudge-nudge terms. Some of the sexuality is pretty blatant. Check out Becky flirting with Rawdon by puffing on his cigar, then doing the same thing to George. Oh yes, that cigar is not just a cigar, but a hint of what's in store for whoever marries her. And how about Miss Crawley's doctors gossiping about Becky and her "famous frontal development" (19.29). That's the medical way of saying "nice rack." Then of course there's all the hot action that Rawdon is surprised by in the early days of his marriage, realizing that the earlier "easy triumphs of the clumsy military Adonis, were quite insipid when compared to the lawful matrimonial pleasures which of late he had enjoyed" (30.6). (Meaning that one-night stands turned out to be not as good as honeymoon sex.) And of course, who could forget the bachelor pad kept by Lord Steyne for the use of his friends and their mistresses? Add to this all the affairs had, the affairs hinted at, and the flirting to get money out of various lecherous men, and you've got yourself quite the steamy read – if you know what to look for, of course.

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