Becky - Sarah May - Keeping Up With The Penguins
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Ambitious and determined, Becky Sharp is going to scheme her way into high society. She slips unnoticed through the ranks, weaponising the secrets she uncovers about the movers and shakers, until she gets what she wants. Is it William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, or the latest novel by Sarah May, Becky? Believe it or not, it’s both – but I’m specifically talking about the latter, because Macmillan Australia was kind enough to send me a copy for review.

Becky begins in 1989, when Becky Sharp starts working as a nanny for a family of newspaper moguls. She doesn’t have her sights set on a career in childcare, though – she wants to work at The Mercury. Amelia Sedley is the widely-adored almost-too-nice nanny for the family upstairs, and the two form an unlikely alliance.

Becky, of course, eventually lands her dream job, breaking the biggest stories of the decade at the country’s most notorious tabloid newspaper. She marries up, levels up, and she seems unstoppable. But, as we all know, journalism has a big shake-up coming (a couple of them, actually) and our (anti?)heroine may yet topple from the top.

Becky is like if a British Ottessa Moshfegh told the story of the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal, using Vanity Fair as a template. May touches on everything – gender inequality, colonialism, celebrity culture, corruption in politics, the wealth gap – without overegging the pudding. She offers incredible moments of blazing insight (“There are no female toilets on the executive floor,” page 149), and a rollicking story to boot – far more fun to read than the 19th century version.

Buy Becky on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)