Read the tenant of wildfell hall by Anne Brontë Online


This was originally published in 1848. Anne Bronte's forthright treatment of a failed marriage, her explicit description of Arthur Huntingdon's descent into profligacy, and especially her plea for a married woman's right to leave her husband was in opposition to the conventions of Victorian society, and was considered scandalous at the time. But it is the deeply felt portrThis was originally published in 1848. Anne Bronte's forthright treatment of a failed marriage, her explicit description of Arthur Huntingdon's descent into profligacy, and especially her plea for a married woman's right to leave her husband was in opposition to the conventions of Victorian society, and was considered scandalous at the time. But it is the deeply felt portrayal of the courageous Helen Huntingdon that provides the heart to this critique of nineteenth century mores....

Title : the tenant of wildfell hall
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 15717688
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 409 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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the tenant of wildfell hall Reviews

  • Amy
    2019-03-12 12:09

    Carol said I must list my all time favorite books. What a challenge this is! I have read everything those Bronte girls wrote, even their childhood poetry and I love all of it. But Anne will take the showing on my list for her bravery. Of course Charlotte was the most prolific and Emily the true brainiac, but Anne has my complete respect for being a true literary pioneer: she was the first woman to write of a wife leaving her abusive husband - and then goes on to lead a happy, successful life! Up to this point, any woman who left her husband met some type of horrific demise. At one point in the novel she slams the door on her husband and feminists claim it was the door slam heard around the world. Critics were and still are harsh toward Anne because of the structure of the novel: she hides, somewhat, behind the devices of letters and diaries -they claim, and I agree, that her tale would have been more powerful had she faced her reader without these. BUT, let's give Anne a big break, she did a truly brave and unprecedented move here, so if she hid a bit behind a lengthy dairy entry, I will forgive her and relish in the power this tale gives women. We owe Anne quite a bit, so read this great story with a forgiving heart and when you finish, thank her because she is one of our noble literary grandmothers.

  • Samadrita
    2019-03-25 10:49

    "Reformed rakes make the best husbands."This is the maxim that governs the universe of historical romance novels. That a puerile assumption regarding dissolute cads turning into paragons of puritanical goodness on being administered the vital dosage of a virgin's 'love' fuels women's fantasies in this day and age depresses me to no end. In a sense, this is the dialectical opposite of Kerouac's On the Road in that it systematically demystifies a contrived notion of masculine 'coolness' - the bastard child of a vile solipsism and unchecked aggression - that the latter romanticized. Women writers of today, particularly those who are laughing all the way to the bank by mass-producing this unforgivable blather, wake the hell up! The youngest Brontë sister saw the evil the cult of machismo breeds in young male children and portrayed it without inhibitions, without holding anything back. 150+ years ago. What are you still waiting for? It is all very well to talk about noble resistance, and trials of virtue; but for fifty-or five hundred men that have yielded to temptation, show me one that has had virtue to resist. And why should I take it for granted that my son will be one in a thousand?-and not rather prepare for the worst, and suppose he will be like this-like the rest of mankind, unless I take care to prevent it?Reading this nearly made me experience that same nightmare that is encapsulated in Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Of course the horrors that Atwood delineated with an unsettling composure make you break out in gooseflesh while Helen's traumatic experiences are merely unpleasant. But there's the same sick feeling of being held against one's will, the same revulsion that threatens to overshadow all other emotions. A blow by blow account of an abusive marriage and a woman being condemned to tolerating a melee hosted by drunken, wife-and-child-abusing reprobates day after infuriating day, year after agonizing year will do that to you. Especially when this picture of oppression is completed by the inexorable professions of love from overenthused admirers who do not take the matter of consent all that seriously. Does that seem harrowing enough?Marriage may change your circumstances for the better, but, in my private opinion, it is far more likely to produce a contrary result.That I am choosing to hold back a star is because Anne's writing lacks Emily's verve and Charlotte's intellectual rigour and that certain something which makes one wish to prolong the act of reading a book. Her characterization is a bit wobbly as Helen is inconsistent throughout the length of the novel - she is stringently insular against Gilbert's growing affection for her and suddenly she isn't, she secures an escape route from her husband's den of debauchery and suddenly returns to that same hell when he is dying in an act of Christian compassion. Besides the repeated attempts at making doctrinal virtue a crutch on which to balance her self assertion wearied me. (Yes yes this was the Victorian era, I understand!)The narrative is a bit lacking in an overall structural integrity. This is particularly evident in the presence of certain generic plot devices and cliches that Anne employs to effect a reconciliation between Gilbert and Helen. I would have been most happy if Gilbert had just been a mildly nosy townsman narrating the events because as a character he may not have been there at all. __P.S.:-Mary A. Ward's introduction mentions how Branwell's alcoholism and reckless behaviour inspired Emily and Anne Brontë to recreate the same kind of violence in their fiction. Heathcliff and Huntingdon were the results.

  • Henry Avila
    2019-03-19 08:56

    An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion, Wildfell Hall, abandoned for many years, by the wealthy family, who owned it, as uninhabitable, surrounded by the bleak moorlands, in a remote, quiet village, in the northern English countryside, during the early part of the 19th century, no one knew she was coming, the locals are very curious, who is she ? What is she doing, calling herself Mrs.Graham, a widow, with a lively five- year -old boy, Arthur. The villagers distrust outsiders, the gloomy, dismal, cold, Wildfell Hall, is not fit to live, only a couple of rooms are fixed, and just loyal, old servant Rachel, to assist, there is a mystery to be solved... The son of a late gentleman farmer, Gilbert Markham, a neighbor, is smitten by Helen Graham, her beauty, poise, intelligence, good manners, and still young, about 25, around the same age as he. Going to see Mrs.Graham often, any excuse will do, being a friendly, good neighbor, bringing a book, giving her son a puppy, finally declaring his undying love, but Helen rejects him, it is not possible any future between the couple, some enigma, from the past, that remains unexplained and Gilbert shouldn't come anymore, it is upsetting her feelings. The unusually independent woman, rare in those days, makes a modest living, painting and selling beautiful, vividly colored, landscapes ... But scandalous rumors drench the area, destroying her reputation, that Mrs.Graham was never married, that her landlord Frederick Lawrence, a frequent visitor, is the spitting image of her son, Arthur, even the local amiable vicar, stays away from the lady. The jealous, confused, hot -tempered, Gilbert, neglects his family, a loving mother, younger brother, rather lazy, the witty, Fergus, pretty, sweet, sister, Rose, and especially the farm. Mr.Markham becomes a peeping Tom, hiding in the bushes, and behind trees, outside Wildfell Hall, spying on Mrs.Graham, witnessing the affections of Mr. Lawrence and Helen, with his own eyes, towards each other, so the rumors are valid... The out of control Gilbert, seething with tremendous anger, deep jealousy, and extreme hate, attacks his friend, Mr. Lawrence, unprovoked, with a heavy whip, on horseback, striking his head, causing much blood to spill, falling down from his animal, on a muddy, wet, lonely road, the badly injured Frederick is stunned, why? The rains pour over the prone body, the somewhat remorseful, moody, Mr.Markham, tries to help, but soon leaves his victim to fend for himself, and rides away...Later Mrs.Graham gives Gilbert her secret diary, to read, it is a troubled past, she has experienced, full of unbelievable torment, suffering and abuse, her little son in the middle, not comprehending any of it, thank God, but she must escape this environment, or the child will also be marked for life, and the mother can not let this happen...A superior work, this indictment, of the lack of freedom , that women in England had, during that harsh era, what they went through, so much mistreatment, little rights . Anne Bronte, shows the world that she was as talented a writer, as her big sisters.

  • TheSkepticalReader
    2019-03-06 12:51

    [4.5 stars]Move over, Charlotte. Make room for my new favorite Brontë!It is inevitable for me to compare Anne Brontë with her sisters, and Helen Graham with Jane Eyre particularly, but I shall momentarily do so anyway. Some said this was better than any Brontë novel published, some claimed it deeply overhyped. After reading this, I shall have to agree with the former claim as I thought this book surpassed, to quite an extent, the love I had for Jane Eyre.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall shook me from the first page, when I discovered that rather than the conventional female perspective, the narrative opens with a letter penned by a male protagonist, Gilbert Markham. I am not the biggest fan of framed stories but this one was deeply engaging all the way through. Through Gilbert’s letter, we then dive into Helen’s diaries and her life, which forms the majority of the novel.Helen Graham is by far of the strongest female protagonist I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. It’s not simply because she has been through an abusive relationship and needs to be pitied, but because she bears through a lot of nonsense from her husband with such grace that there were points at which I was infuriated at her calmness. She takes everything in strides,“my bliss is sobered, but not destroyed; my hopes diminished, but not departed; my fears increased, but not yet throughly confirmed”While this sort of pacifism is clearly harmful to her and her son’s existence, in reality, I have a difficult time criticizing her for bearing through so much before she finally decided to do what was right. In such cases, things were most certainly easier said than done. So though I was angered by her mild reactions at times, I cannot fault her in her decisions because I cannot claim something as definitively right or wrong given that I haven’t been through any sort of similar experience as she.But generally though, how could I not love Anne for shaping a character that is constantly being tested and yet never letting that deteriorate her from her and her son’s happiness. In the end, I would’ve completely understood Helen if she had given up on everything in life, on striving to make peace, but in the end she doesn’t let anyone destroy her existence. And I just had to sit back and admire that for a moment. Her patience was tested by more than just one character, and multiple times throughout, but she always responds in a clear, sensible manner. Her hushed posture can easily be misconstrued for indifference by readers but I don’t think she is indifferent to anything, merely aware of the prejudices against her and cynical of her environment because of it.I cannot say whether I really liked or disliked Gilbert Markham, but I have to argue that I was somewhat disappointed that we did not get to see a lot of interaction between him and Helen once the story is coming to an end. Given all that Helen has gone through by the end of her diaries, I expected her to be a bit more cautious with her affections. Similarly, I was also a bit unsatisfied with the ending of Jane Eyre so I suppose it’s something that I will eventually have to get past.And lastly, of course, the controversial aspect of this novel, and what makes it so fantastic, is Helen’s relationship with her husband. Anne Brontë is unflinchingly honest in her depiction of alcoholism and how that leads to an abusive marriage. She is ruthless in her assertion of how women are shoved into a corner without a voice, abused, mistreated, and exploited in their silence. Brontë writes things which are hard to read about, but even harder to comprehend as the realities of women—then, and now. Despite knowing that all of these things still continue to happen in our society, and how much for the sake of propriety we force women into mute beings, Brontë still managed to craft some sentences which punched me right in the gut.How could I not love something like this?

  • Samantha
    2019-03-16 09:13

    With this book Anne has now become my favorite Brontè! Amazing story! Not only is the writing phenomenal but the issues she addresses were truly progressive for the time: feminism, alcoholism, abuse, etc A must read!

  • Sherwood Smith
    2019-03-22 10:58

    I suspect that many readers today have no idea that these three vicarage-raised spinsters took the English publishing world by storm in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Thundering from reviews were words like coarse, shocking, immoral, depraved . . . and those reviewers thought the authors Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell were men!Tenant hit the shelves with the biggest splash, requiring a second edition, at the front of which Anne added an impassioned forward aimed at critics. She maintains that she is telling the truth as she saw it, and further, in depicting the dregs of drunkenness, she is showing how it really is, now how it would like to be seen.The only thing she finesses is her gender, implying she's a male--this, she knew well, gave her words agency in a way a female's wouldn't--but she ends the foreword with a determined statement that anything a man could write a woman ought to be able to write as well.The story itself is pretty tame by today's standards, so it's difficult to understand its profound impact. One has to know something of Victorian history to understand how Mrs. Huntington daring to shut her bedroom door on her abusive, drunken husband, thus denying him his "rights," was a door-slam heard round the world.That isn't to say that there wasn't question about authorship. Trollope and a few others intuited that a woman wrote the book. I suspect this is because Gilbert Markham is not quite believable as a male, but it could be because Mrs. Huntington, in daring to deny her drunken spouse his rights, and then taking her boy away and leaving him, then getting a happy ending, was nothing a man would write. Just ask Hardy!Anyway, the basic story is fairly well known: a mysterious widow, "Mrs. Grahame," moves to a secluded town, keeping herself to herself, and earning her living by painting. She gets to know the local sprig, Gilbert Markham, whose POV takes up about three fifths of the book (the rest is Helen's journal of her marriage), is at first antagonistic and then slowly attracted to the widow, who becomes enamored of him, then quite properly according to Victorian mores, shuts him down. She gives him her journal, then makes him promise he will leave her alone, since she must abide alone as long as her husband lives. Later she goes back to her husband when news comes he's suffered a horseback riding accident and is in danger of losing his life. She nurses him faithfully, writes about it in detail, and in a roundabout manner that bows to Victorian notions of delicacy, manages to get her happy ending after all.For a modern reader, it's difficult to understand how she could like Gilbert, who is really annoying, veering between preachiness and sudden bouts of sullenness and violence, no doubt in the way Anne observed men behaving. What she couldn't do was get inside their heads. The most convincing scenes are Helen's journal, and the minor female characters stand out from the various males, the servant Rachel being one of the best, and Eliza being one of the worst, in a masterly depiction of Victorian female falsity.The book makes a strong effort to balance the depravity of Huntington and his circle with Christian moralizing, but deep at the heart of this was Anne's own struggle with faith, finally arriving at universal forgiveness: how could God reject the creatures he had made?Huntingdon's end was harrowing for those times, and there is the resonance of truthful observation of the cost of drunkenness in his physical decline, in spite of the faithfully reproduced but absurd medical cant of the time (including a brief reference to phrenology!). Anne was an acute observer of human behavior, the opposite of poor Emily, whose work reads to me like the fiction of someone incapable of social awareness or comprehension. Emily was her own person, and Wuthering Heights reads like id vortex on speed--no wonder it, too, totally bushwhacked the English publishing world of the 1840s. Then came Jane Eyre, whose central figure, so much like Charlotte, depicts the woman determined to make her place in a man's world.I think Tenant is also interesting for Anne's take on the Byronic hero/villain, a type that fascinated the Bronte kids (all four of them, Branwell apparently trying to be one, poor thing), as one can see in the juvenilia that still exists. But unlike Branwell, Charlotte, and Emily, Anne does not find the moody, brutal male at all sexy, except superficially, and that doesn't last. Huntington, in spite of his good looks, is depicted with unflinching accuracy to detail: an abusive, selfish dickbag, who had no value for anyone or anything but his own inclinations, right down to getting his five year old son drunk in order to entertain the company with his swearing and falling down. Those scenes are about the most harrowing in the book, the more because they feel real.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-16 10:09

    Poor Helen. Poor Anne. Poor book...Anne is just as much a Brontë as her sisters! Her voice, in many ways, completes the harmony and picks up where the two of them leave off. True, there are no fires, ghosts, or windswept moors. But, as one critic noted, "The slamming of Helen's bedroom door against her husband reverberated throughout Victorian England."I struggle with Victorian literature, because I don't have a clear sense of context. It's difficult for me to separate the author from her time. This book suffers from the usual problems inherent to the period. The story is, by necessity, a little drawn out. There's the contrived excuse for narration, superfluous to contemporary readers, etc.The story, however, is evenly written and the characterization is stunningly deep. I admit, I initially found Helen a little too rigid, too cold, and perhaps emotionally dependent on her son. I came to understand her and her choices. (Yes, a pious...Victorian...mother was somehow made relatable to me!)Helen is not especially worldly. She's not especially brazen. Yet there's courage in that quiet demeanor. There's a still, small voice that refuses to waver. It's true, her beliefs aren't my beliefs. But I admire her fortitude. I'm touched by her steadfast devotion. She stood firm in her own convictions, even as her swaggering husband laughed at them. --In addition to being a book about feminism and piety, this is one of the better books about alcoholism.Helen was warned about Arthur yet married him anyway. She did the best she could. She tried with all her heart. Sometimes that's all you can do. To paraphrase from another book, If I knew then what I know wouldn't matter a damn darn. (Sorry, Ms. Brontë)."He is very fond of me - almost too fond. I could do with less caressing and more rationality: I should like to be less a pet and more a friend, if I might choose - but I won't complain of that: I am only afraid his affection loses in depth where it gains in ardour. I sometimes liken it to a fire of dry twigs and branches compared with one of solid coal, - very bright and hot, but if it should burn itself out and leave nothing but ashes behind, what shall I do? But it won't - it shan't, I am determined..."Sadly, I can relate.

  • Piyangie
    2019-03-08 08:47

    The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is the second novel and my only read of Anne Bronte. The first thought that came to mind while reading was that why it took me this long to discover her? I was familiar with her more famous sisters Charlotte and Emily but did not know her existence till a recent time!Anne's writing is however far different to that of her sisters, for her approach is more direct. There is no poetic language, no implied romanticism and less flowery phrases, which is the signature approach with her famous siblings. Instead, her approach is direct, bold and realistic. With her authentic writing style, she weaves the tale of the Tenant of Wildfell Hall in to a realistic, timeless tale. The heroine, Helen, finds her paying a bitter price for her infatuation and ultimate marriage to a rake. His alcoholism and debauchery makes her life a living hell, but she endures it all with her strong sense of duty. When his conducts threatens the well-being of her son, she flees and seeks refuge elsewhere with the noble desire of welfare of her son at her heart. Eventually her "good for nothing" husband dies and she finally finds love and happiness. Although the gist of the story seems like a pretty little love story, it is not. It is a story of sheer courage and patience to forbear abuse and to hold on, when all your hopes are cruelly crushed and despair is threatening to embrace you. It is story of sense of duty towards one’s husband although he is a demon and not a human. It is a story of a mother who is taking the right course of action to protect her son, although that course of action is something which would shock the world (for, leaving one's husband under any circumstances was against law and nothing short of a crime) and scorn her. And I would add this is still the story of numerous women all around the world. For them, Helen is a model of comfort and strength to draw courage from, and to stand their own ground. Having an abusive alcoholic brother herself, Anne must have been well aware of the consequences of women in such a household. This piece of work is regarded as one of feminist works, but my opinion is to the contrary. Although there is a touch of feminism in it with more emphasis towards the wrongs done for women, it is not completely so. The story talks about both sides; a woman's suffering in the case of abuse and debauchery by her husband and a man's suffering in the event of adultery by his wife (Lord Lowborough). And it also talks, how there are villains among men, rather than offering strength of friendly support to a woman in desperate need of it, tries to reap their own fruit of selfish passion. (Mr. Hargrave). The book deals with so much of raw emotions, the ever changing feelings when faced with different tiers of misery. Though the book lacks beautiful language, flowery prose and a graceful flow, as that you would expect in a Bronte, this direct narrative is soul searching with every written sentence questioning your innermost feelings. It is both amazing and alarming when a book does that. I have no further words to describe how much I loved and enjoyed this book, hence 4 full stars.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-03-22 12:05

    The second novel Anne wrote before she caught pulmonary tuberculosis shortly after her 29th birthday. Certainly not something on those 100 Things To Do Before You’re 30 Lists. 1) Paragliding. 2) Kayaking. 3) Catch pulmonary TB and die. See? Good. The problem with those lists is they presuppose readers like the outdoors and have a private income of some three zillion units. Far better the lists have simpler aims for us mortals: 1) Eat a probiotic yoghurt. 2) Bumslide down a banister. 3) Help drywall your father’s shed. 4) Post an actual letter. 5) Touch something with a DANGER OF DEATH sign. That sort of thing.Anyway. Anne’s second novel shows her evolving considerably as a prose composer—if not in terms of style or structure, certainly in terms of content and ideas. The structure is peculiar—the first 100pp concern Gilbert Markham’s attempts to chat up a reclusive new tenant at the titular Hall, before switching to the letters of said tenant, Helen Graham/Huntingdon. This is what we MFA graduates call a fucking huge narrative lurch, but the story becomes far more interesting as Helen’s narrative voice is the strongest (Gilbert doesn’t quite convince as a man) and more rife with intrigue, struggle and heartbreak, etc.She marries Arthur Huntington despite her supposed intelligence, an alcoholic in remission whose condition returns during his frequent trips to the dens of London. He soon morphs into a monster and Helen’s patience is tested to snapping point, forcing her to flee her fallen hubby. The novel is one of the strongest (and earliest) depictions of the human rights abuses the marriage laws of the period were capable of encouraging . . . by marrying a man the woman was entitled to hand everything she owned to the husband and become an obedient slave-creature. The prose meekly screams at this pathetic injustice and rightly so.The writing style is extremely circumlocutious in places and only very patient, bedridden readers will want to wade through the long monologues and nature descriptions . . . I mean this in comparison with other novels of the period, so heed that warning. The structure works surprisingly well as the narrative is handed back to Gilbert, although the clumsy recourse to letters to keep the story going makes the last quarter a painful flop technically speaking . . . plot-wise, I was bursting to know how things turned out for the long-suffering Helen. Excellent work. First Brontë has passed the test. Next: Charley.

  • Fiona
    2019-02-27 06:12

    The question "Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw[/Linton/whatever]?" has always annoyed me. I couldn't stand Wuthering Heights, accomplished though it was, and I think lots of people tend to assume I must be something of a Jane Eyre devotee: I'm not. I'm really not.The next time someone asks me which I prefer, I shall tell them: Helen Huntingdon. Emphatically, enthusiastically, and with the fire of a thousand suns. Helen Huntingdon don't need no man. She's had enough of your friendzoning bullshit. Helen Huntingdon will tell you precisely what she thinks of you, with documentary supporting evidence from your wife, and then she will close the library door and make good art, which you are not allowed to see. Helen Huntingdon is a force of nature, and and she has a happily-ever-after to manufacture for herself. She might not know exactly what it'll look like, but it'll be hers.This book... okay, let's get the one solitary negative out of the way, which is that the structure is a bit weird. The framing narrative is boring compared to the meat of the story, and the meat of the story is told in diary form. It doesn't really work. Do I care? Not in the slightest.For the first sixty or so pages, we join Whiner of the Month Gilbert Markham, who discovers that there's a new lady living at the house out of town - it's Wildfell Hall, she's the tenant, are you with me? - and she's far nicer and prettier and less of a bitch than the girl he's currently in love with, so he starts flirting. New Lady isn't interested. He embarrasses himself in a wide selection of ways: getting caught climbing in her window by her maid and being told to move on, punching a guy off his horse and having to sidle along and apologise later, endless "are you watching me paint"/"no"/"stop watching me paint, Gilbert" conversations... and then she decides to explain herself.What follows is Helen Huntingdon's diary through the first seven years of her marriage to a heinous bastard, from when they first meet, to when she leaves him. Anne Brontë sugar-coats nothing. She doesn't say there are good times. She doesn't suggest that Arthur Huntingdon might be alright, really, deep down. She doesn't even make him a monster. You'll recognise him; I certainly do. He's of a kind with Rochester, with Heathcliff, with a hundred men inspired by them (Edward Fairfax Rochester: the thinking woman's abusive romantic hero). But Anne Brontë tells the truth: you'll never reform him. He doesn't just love you. Nobody's different. This is what it's always going to be like.I read this for a book group, and we noted that Helen Huntingdon does what Isabella Linton does in Wuthering Heights: she marries young and idealistically, thinking she can change a man who obviously strings her along. She does her best, for as long as she can, and then she takes her son and runs. We're not really meant to like Isabella - she's young, she's foolish, we're sort of supposed to think she should have known better - but you know, I was with her all along, and I'm still with her.Luckily for us, Helen Huntingdon is a complete badass. She sticks around, she puts up with a lot, but she doesn't do it quietly. She doesn't lie down and take anything. There is a core of her that remains there, but it's not hidden away under layers of thick skin. It's right out in the open, and staring pointedly. And when it gets too much, she takes her son, and she leaves. And she supports herself. And she does difficult things, and they hurt, and she does them, and she grows as a character and as a woman (and I mean that as opposed to girl, rather than as opposed to man). Such character growth. I love it.She's portrayed positively, which is why she's different from Isabella Linton, why she's fascinating and important and my hero, and why you've not read this book. Anne, and Helen, were too far ahead of their time. It was too much, and Charlotte Brontë denied Wildfell Hall a reprint. It fell out of the public eye. In the 1970s, I gather, noticing that marriage wasn't always perfect came back into fashion, and the book had something of a resurgence. Frankly, it deserves a bigger one.In the author's foreword, she says that she was trying to write something true. For me, Wildfell Hall rings far more true than Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights ever did. The characters act in ways that are true. They say things, and respond to things, in ways that are true. They escape, finally, or don't, in ways that are true. I am happy that I have found this Brontë, for she is my Brontë and I am hers. I think you should read it. Seriously, you can borrow my copy.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2019-03-08 11:02

    The tenant that is being referred to in the title of this book, The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is not actually a tenant. She owns the place being the child of the owner. She is born there and only comes back because she is running away from her alcoholic husband. The husband is slowly introducing alcohol to their 5-y/o child and so she bangs the door to her husband’s face, runs away to her former home, the estate called Wildfell under a fictitious name. The act of a married woman running away from her husband especially with her child is against the prevailing law in England called “Married Women Property Act in 1870” that says: a wife has no independent legal existence. She cannot get separated from his husband, she cannot vote, she cannot decide alone for his kids, among others.Anne Bronte, the youngest of the gifted Bronte sisters has the above for her storyline. It is a huge departure from Jane Eyre’s fight to be happy or Catherine Earnshaw’s defiance to against his father and brother. Bronte’s Helen Lawrence Huntingdon, a.k.a., Helen Graham, defies law and she does not give damn about it. Many English readers raised their eyebrows and others said that this was not as good as Anne Bronte's sister's (or brother because they were using male pseudonyms) Jane Eyre. However, I believe that the reason Charlotte Bronte did not want this book re-published a year after Anne Bronte died was that Charlotte was jealous.In terms of characters, this book has a lot more than Jane Eyre and there are many sub-plots too. The main theme (the evil of alcohol abuse) is also more mature and seemed to be something that was close to the Bronte sister had since their loved one, their brother, Branwell Bronte succumbed to this vice and was the main reason for his early demise: he drank himself to death. The fight for independence that was equated to happiness during that Victorian times was pursued by Helen Graham as strong as how Jane Eyre fought for her Rochester and Anne Bronte (just like Charlotte Bronte) made sure that her plot would end up having the rightful lovers in each others' arms in the end. So, for romance lovers, this book does not disappoint.There are also many other similarities between the two: falling from the horse, rich uncle leaving his property to his niece making the niece very rich in the end, weak male characters, protagonist taking care of the sick villain and granting forgiveness, former wrong lover dying in the end for the heroine to marry the right guy, etc. I understand that those were basic ingredients of Victorian novels and the readers then look for those in the romance novels that they read. I just thought that those many similarities are too much of a coincidence so I was less amused now compared to when I read Jane Eyre last month.For the same reason, I thought that Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights stood tall and strong over her sister's most-known books. I only read these three just to know who was the best Bronte in my opinion. I have no doubt now that it was Emily. Wuthering is very different and so there was a rumor that Branwell helped Emily in writing it but I don't know about that.Of course, I will still read Charlotte's other works and someday I will also read Agnes Grey. You see, kick-ass Anne, who made her character defy the English law, did not disappoint me. I also liked this book. Thank you to my reading buddies, Ella and LS for reading this with me.Thank you to my brother for lending his copy of the book to me.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-17 12:52

    Anne Bronte's second novel is often overshadowed by her sisters' more famous novels, Charlotte's Jane Eyre (and three others) and Emily's Wuthering Heights, but it is equally worth reading. It tells the story of Helen Huntingdon, a mysterious woman who comes to live at Wildfell Hall with her child and one servant, and Gilbert Markham, the young man who is powerfully drawn to her and eventually learns her secret: that she left her dissolute, drunken husband in order to shield their son from his influence. The first and last sections are from Gilbert's point of view; the central, and most powerful, from Helen's, as Gilbert reads the diary in which she narrates the events of her marriage.Victorian readers found the scenes of Huntingdon's drunkenness and infidelity revolting and coarse, and they remain powerfully compelling today, though the subjects are less shocking to today's readers. Helen is a strong, willful, intelligent heroine, and to my mind, the novel's one real fault is that too much of the narrative is given to the less interesting Gilbert; once finished with Helen's diary, the story loses much of its power, though it regains some through the use of Helen's letters in the chapters leading up to the climax.Anne Brontë's voice is as passionate as her sisters', and her fierce truthfulness pervades the novel; as her preface to the second edition says, in response to the censures of critics and readers, "I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it." In penning this challenge to the conventional morals of Victorian society, Brontë told truths about the role of women and the potential pitfalls of marriage that are meaningful more than 150 years after the publication of her book.

  • Nicole~
    2019-03-03 09:52

    The Not-So Merry Widow of Wildfell HallAnne Brontë explores themes of alcohol abuse and the cruelty it wages on marriage and family; of a mother's ardent protection of her child; implicitly, of women's patterns of silence, alienation from society and forced isolation: in a surprisingly explicit story for its time, yet modern and relevant even today in its concealment of the truth, and the inadvertent practice by women of remaining voiceless in their plight.Slander, disrepute and condemnation of the mysterious widow, Mrs. Graham (Helen), form on the wagging tongues of those upright and righteous personages who uphold the moral standards of the town so exaltedly high they may be in jeopardy of nosebleeds. Helen rigidly hides her past when she becomes The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, but her discreet nondisclosure of her origins only serves to impugn her virtuousness. The first part of the novel is narrated by Gilbert Markham , a young man quite taken by the newly arrived widow. He is at first Helen's champion, defending her secretive former life: "There is such a thing as looking through a person's eyes into the heart, and learning more of the height, and breadth, and depth of another's soul in one hour than it might take you a lifetime to discover, if he or she were not disposed to reveal it, or if you had not the sense to understand it;" but falls into that very pattern of misjudgment of her, as malicious gossip and jealousy cloud his perception. Helen's character is degraded- censure and misunderstanding of the quietness she wishes to maintain, disturb the peace she seeks at Wildfell Hall. The truth of Helen's past unravels in the second portion of the novel through the reading of the diaries she offers to Markham, revealing her violent life with husband, Arthur Huntingdon - who turns out to be very much alive. The opening chapters of the diaries give us a view of two women: young and impetuous Helen and her cautious Aunt Maxwell, setting the tone for marriage prospects. "I know many that have...been the wretched victims of deceit; and some, through weakness, have fallen into snares and temptations terrible to relate...If you should marry the handsomest, and most accomplished and superficially agreeable man in the world, you little know the misery that would overwhelm you if, after all, you should find him to be a worthless reprobate or even an impractical fool. " - Aunt Maxwell.Anne Brontë asserts in the preface that the novel "tells the truth", speaking for women who suffer at the hands of others and for whatever reason, are unable to speak out openly for themselves. Helen suspects her aunt may have suffered such an experience by her uncle who had shown signs of having lived wantonly like Arthur Huntingdon; and like her aunt, Helen deals with her disillusionment of her husband, and his cruelty, by not speaking of it. Had her aunt been more forthcoming of her own afflicted marriage, perhaps Helen would have heeded her earlier urging to stay clear of a man like Arthur; and perhaps, the cycle of abuse and the muted inexpressiveness that follows in fashion might have come to a halt. Part three of the novel shows Helen as the forgiving, caregiving wife, though previously punished by the cruel hands of her patient, nurses him to his dying day, evoking vague similarities to Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, though Charlotte, in the effort of sisterly support (I hope), might not have objected.Anne stealthily lets the reader in on the lives of different women at different angles- wives, mothers, sisters, adulteresses; the relationships they endure- healthy or otherwise, the brutality they may suffer, and the motivations that drive them forward - for Helen, such is the foremost role of mother and protector of her son. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was published in 1848, a novel that incorporates significant social themes of the time and in my estimation, did not gain the high notability it should have. Anne Brontë's depiction of "a morbid love of the coarse, if not of the brutal," of situations of abused and silenced women: still hold true in the 21st century."I wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it. Let it not be imagined, however, that I consider myself competent to reform the errors and abuses of society, but only that I would fain contribute my humble quota towards so good an aim; and if I can gain the public ear at all, I would rather whisper a few wholesome truths therein than much soft nonsense." - Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.Re-read May 2015

  • Jess
    2019-03-15 05:07

    (Find the full sized image here.)Before we discovered Anne Brontë, some of us fancied Heathcliff. We wanted to fix him, tame him, soothe his tortured soul. Or maybe if you preferred the more mature and experienced man, you craved Mr Rochester. Perhaps you were even hanging out of your bedroom window on stormy nights, convinced that someone somewhere was calling to you.Not any more. It's time to ditch those Byronic heroes, people. No more "mad, bad and dangerous to know", only sober and honest men from now on.Wow. This woman was such a literary pioneer. Who else can you name that effortlessly tackles marital abuse, marital rape, alcoholism, drug addiction, infant custody and female self-determination all in one book? Anne Bronte: the feminist writer we need but truly don't deserve.This merits a bad ass-Bronte-strut:The emphasis on repentance within The Tenant of Wildfell Hall may feel slightly archaic and outdated to the modern reader but its boldness, brutal honesty and eloquence in proclaiming equality is timeless. A stunning examination of marriage and its abuse.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is said to be the first sustained feminist novel/ manifesto for Women’s Lib. Now, that’s a high honour.. and it totally deserves it.This caused scandal when it was first published in 1847. It sold out in just 6 weeks, (yep, that's faster than both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights) making Anne the most successful of the sisters during their lifetimes. And perhaps it would've stayed that way had Charlotte Brontë not had her way (argh) - but more on that later.So, why the scandal? Well, Anne depicts a woman who:1) Leaves her womanising, alcoholic and abusive husband2) to make her own independent living 3) and takes her son with her.Let’s clarify that in context: in 1847 this wasn't just unusual; it was illegal. Women were wholly subject to the control of their husband. I would say 'fun fact', but it really, really isn't: marital rape was actually completely legal util 1991. So just imagine how shocking it was to contemporary readers when Helen (the heroine) refuses to have sex with her husband when he shows his true colours, locking herself in her bedroom. If this was effectively denying conjugal rights as recently as 1990, you can imagine how scandalous this was in 1847. Mary Sinclair commented in 1913 how ‘the slamming of Helen Huntington’s bedroom door against her husband reverberated through Victorian England’. And I guess she must have slammed that door pretty hard, because Charlotte Brontë refused to have The Tenant of Wildfell Hall re-published after Anne’s death in 1849. In fact, it wasn't printed again officially until 1859, and that fly-by-night edition was completely butchered with all the best bits cut out. It's debatable whether Charlotte did this as a bit of bitchy revenge out of jealousy for Anne's success or if she was just terrified of public opprobrium. Either way, I hate her for what she did to Anne's legacy.But Anne was not fussed about the scandal she'd caused. She wanted to prove a point - this is a campaigning novel. In the scalding preface to the second edition in which she defended herself, she said this:“I wished to tell the truth; for truth always conveys its own moral.”Amen. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was written in deliberate protest against the social conventions of the time. Anne wrote from "personal experience" AKA witnessing her brother Branwell deteriorate into alcoholism and drug addiction, having had a disastrous affair with his employer's wife when he was working alongside Anne as a tutor. She had secured the position for him, as she herself was the family's governess - and she felt responsible for Branwell’s devolution. Essentially, she wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as a warning: she wanted to save others from the same fate, cautioning young men about the consequences of excess and enlightening young women of the perils of bad men.And it isso well written. I'm not gonna lie, my attention drifted slightly towards the end - I was thinking quite frequently come on Anne, wrap it up now… but that finale was worth the wait. I think in many ways I respected this novel more than I enjoyed it.The romance is a bit lukewarm and there's not the slightest whiff of anything supernatural - and maybe that’s part of the reason why Anne’s work isn't as well remembered as Emily’s or Charlotte’s. She refused to glamorise an oppressive man. Arthur Huntington is not a romanticised brooding Byronic hero - he’s an arse. And Anne tells us that blatantly - she doesn't pussyfoot around or wear rose tinted glasses: living with a self-destructive husband is not thrilling or exciting in reality.Anne Bronte is so underestimated. George Moore endowed her with the less than flattering epithet of a ‘literary Cinderella’, always in the shadow of her two sisters. But she is not in their shadow because of an inferior intellect, as so many critics have (wrongly!!) claimed. (Prowess is not measured by endurance!) If only she had lived longer, she would've been able to defend her work - from both the hostile critics (and she'd already done this once) and more importantly...from Charlotte. The result of this interference? It’s not on the school curriculum. You probably won’t be forced to read it for an exam, even at university. But I strongly urge you to read this of your own volition. An incredible novel: subversive, compelling, refreshing and, sadly, relevant.

  • Aubrey
    2019-03-24 10:46

    4.9/5I'm currently pulling this and Jane Eyre apart for an essay on the Coming of Age of the Abject Woman. Naturally, Victorian lit of the het cis sane (main character only, which means no Bertha Mason) and white variety is rather slim pickings for such a topic, but I may as well start in a place that will be useful for grad school and, for all my commitments to works beyond the pale, still manages to impress. There's also the matter that with these works, unlike Beloved and Almanac of the Dead, I'm not out of my league in terms of consorting of the academic type. In any case, I'm in the last leg of my undergrad career (amazingly enough), and I might as well make the most of it, serious writing wise.The plot for this, and in many ways the narrative construction, are ridiculous. So are the ones for Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, for that matter, and casting back I remember more strongly pronounced disbelief in reaction to other specimens of this era's lit, a smidge when it came to North and South and utter hilarity in the case of Great Expectations. Reason and rationality, then, are not what classrooms all over this postcolonial dynamic of a world of ours come back to these for again, and again, and again. Narratologicaly speaking, one would have an easy time of characterizing this as poorly constructed trash, (which has most assuredly been done time and time again from the moment it was published and at an even more accelerated pace when it was discovered that a woman held the pen) so what is it? What made it so that, almost exactly a year after I finished work this under my own power, I was assigned it as a part and parcel of the culminating class of my degree, not as mere excerpt or memorized recitation but member of trifecta?I'd give anything for this work to age badly, I really would. The microaggressions it contains are factors neither of racism nor ableism, and the classism is more internalized than anything else, but boil them down to a fundamental level and this is fear in a handful of dust. You're merchandise, so don't complain about never having it all. You're vulnerable, so god forbid you're ever given a choice. That lack of thing between your legs dictates all from a plethora of targeted slurs to the socioeconomics of your legal right to being human, so if you want justice for rape or humanization of rape: prove it. The alienation by social mechanisms of the breaking of faith and the subversion of civilized conduct is subtle and systemic enough to merit a paper, which is exactly what I'm going to do. This, however, is not only for the centerpiece of Helen Graham's diary, but for the flanked outposts of male narrator/male narrator, a voice that develops without word during the midst of hers that, proof upon proof, outlet upon outlet, paints this boy a picture of exactly what he has committed and how he could yet turn out. So long as monsters continue to think themselves the everyman and the everyman insures the status quo, there will always be a need for the writing kith and kin of Anne Brontë.Theoretical academic constructs allow for amused and gratified reflection of the final stages of this work in comparison to Pride and Prejudice's Pemberley scene, as well as surprisingly vast class discussions on matters of nipples, children as social construct, and how in the US once a man starts stalking you he, for all practical legal matters, owns you until death do you part. I'm a tad under the weather, so if I've wandered off any more than usual through the duration of this, blame it on that. In any case, you've my previous year's effort as an example of a more focused endeavor.If you had no higher motive than the approval of your fellow mortal, it would do you little good.---4/18/15 Review4.9/5I would not send a poor girl into the world unarmed against her foes, and ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power, or the will, to watch and guard herself; —and as for my son — if I thought he would grow up to be what you call a man of the world — one that has “seen life,” and glories in his experience, even though he should so far profit by it, as to sober down, at length, into a useful and respected member of society — I would rather that he died to-morrow! — rather a thousand times!I have an abiding interest in the rituals by which human beings stave off the decision of killing themselves. Morbid, perhaps, but there's no use in beating around the bush when it comes to the earthly fear of hell or the continued existence of hell on earth. This is, of course, all very Christianity-centric, and my Catholic upbringing has only prepared me for a few works here and there that cleave so insistently to the European vein of Testaments. While I wait for others of a different theological bent to give their views on how well this Bible-laden work deals with suffusions of duty, guilt, and the fight or flight of the socially-ground soul, I will satisfy myself with a familiar spiritual footing. Different as the many religions may be, Protestantism's not the only one that condemns the taking of one's own life.What he would be, if I did not so watchfully anticipate his wants, and so carefully avoid, or immediately desist from, doing anything that has a tendency to irritate or disturb him, with however little reason, I cannot tell.I may not have given this work the full fathom five, but I can tell you this: Anne Brontë does not fuck around. The Golden Notebook and The Piano Teacher may be more incisively brutal in their own respective right, but it was The Tenant of Wildfell Hall that refused to flinch first. I choose other privileged-white-woman narratives to fill the ranks not out of lack of experience with other physiognomical-specific vivisections, but so as to not belittle said latter. Clipped as Helen's wings are, never does she face the prospect of selling her body for food in a far blunter manner than her marriage contract allows for. Do not, however, interpret this as a scoffing at the abuse that is afforded by said contract: what doesn't kill you breaks you for life.Well then, Arthur, how can you call it nothing — an offence for which you would think yourself justified in blowing another man’s brains out?Alongside the themes of religion and marriage in early 19th century England, there is the matter of the intersection of gender and violence. Rather than indulge in the usual lazy stereotypes of the bitchy woman and the manhandling man, this work affords a glimpse at how these traits are developed for means of survival. Gentrified as the plot of this story may be, the social norm of reputation is shown to be a powerful force indeed when it comes to enforced isolation of both well-off genders. Everyone is allowed to play when all is fine and well, a promise coupled with the slightest misstep guaranteed to be met with a variation on the theme of a caved-in skull. The power plays by which Helen is bound to Huntington's abode have a whiff of The Metamorphosis about them, for what's the form of a woman who will not cooperate with house-bound benefactors?‘I am satisfied,’ he replied, with bitter emphasis, ‘that you are the most cold-hearted, unnatural, ungrateful woman I ever yet beheld!’‘Ungrateful, sir?’‘Ungrateful.’‘No, Mr. Hargrave; I am not. For all the good you ever did me, or ever wished to do, I most sincerely thank you: for all the evil you have done me, and all you would have done. I pray God to pardon you, and make you of a better mind.’Comprehensive as Anne's vision is, I have to wonder whether her continued violation of Helen's confidence for the sake of tying the narrative together was a matter of a writer's inexperience or a commentary on the ubiquity of a woman's lot in life. In terms of Gilbert Markham, when one considers his first person narration and those few ripped out pages of Helen's diary, whether he is a true good or a mere lesser evil will never be riddled out to my satisfaction.

  • Helene Jeppesen
    2019-02-28 10:00

    This was a beautiful love story with one of the most interesting narrative styles I've ever encountered. Without saying too much, the narration of this story shifts, and the overall style is not your typical narration style of a novel. Does this make sense? :P I hope not, because I want for you to read this book and see for yourself what I'm talking about (also I'm really tired when writing this, so bear with me). Anne Brontë has a way of creating very complicated and also mean characters, and I love it. I did see some ressemblances between this book and "Wuthering Heights", and I liked it. As a matter of fact, I think I like "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" just a little bit more, because to me it read more easily and had a beautiful storyline. The characters of this book come with a heavy background, and it's the gradual revelation of this background that makes the story so interesting. While this book is my favourite by Anne Brontë so far, I did have some minor problems with it. The middle part dragged on a bit too long for my taste, and I started questioning one of the characters' behaviour and lack of decision-making (yes, I just made that a word!). But all in all, I admire Anne Brontë's talent and way of telling a compelling story that will drag you in and leave you with a smile on your face :)

  • Tatiana
    2019-03-06 11:48

    Funny how things change. I used to love this book. I pretty much can't stand it now. 3 stars (it was 5 before today) is just an obligatory i-appreciate-but-not-really-care-for-it rating. Anne Brontë and I would have never been friends, because it's hard to be a friend with someone so damn righteous and unbendable. Sure, Helen Graham and Agnes Grey are fictional characters, but is there a doubt they are reflections of the author? Not in my mind.Granted, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a huge improvement over Anne's earlier, even more self-righteous Agnes Grey. Helen was at least allowed to make a BIG MISTAKE, unlike Agnes, goodness incarnate. But both women are just so nauseatingly correct and I-know-better, so judgmental of others, with such staunch beliefs, it's off-putting. I can't even find energy to write what Anne did great in this work (and there are of course things she should be praised for). Today this book suffocated me with the writer's sour attitude and moralizing. Will my opinion of this novel change in another 10 years?

  • Whitaker
    2019-03-14 12:03

    I felt, reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, as if I was watching a black-and-white silent movie. There was the same sense of expressions and gestures exaggerated, made larger than life. Emotions were felt ten-fold. Characters are never just sad, they must be sullenly despondent; they are never just in love, but passionate, painfully so:She turned from me to hide the emotion she could not quite control; but I took her hand and fervently kissed it. 'Gilbert, do leave me!' she cried, in a tone of such thrilling anguish that I felt it would be cruel to disobey.Emotions are hot and violence never seems far away:Bitter, indeed, was the tone of anguish, repressed by resolute firmness, in which this was spoken. Now, I raised her hand to my lips, and fervently kissed it again and again; for tears prevented any other reply. She suffered these wild caresses without resistance or resentment; then, suddenly turning from me, she paced twice or thrice through the room. I knew by the contraction of her brow, the tight compression of her lips, and wringing of her hands, that meantime a violent conflict between reason and passion was silently passing within. Lawrence attempted to draw me into conversation, but I snubbed him and went to another part of the room. Shortly after the party broke up and he himself took leave. When he came to me I was blind to his extended hand, and deaf to his good-night till he repeated it a second time; and then, to get rid of him, I muttered an inarticulate reply, accompanied by a sulky nod. 'What is the matter, Markham?' whispered he. I replied by a wrathful and contemptuous stare.It wasn’t difficult to imagine Mary Pickford or Lillian Gish in the role of Mrs Graham / Helen Huntingdon: Poor Mrs Graham alone at Wildfell Hall: [image error]Mrs Graham looking after little Arthur at Wildfell Hall: Mrs Graham meets Mr Markham: Helen being wooed by Arthur:Helen Huntingdon realises that she's married a creep: Helen and Gilbert finally meet at Staningley: All of that was well and good, but in the transition from passionate despair at the end of Chapter 49 to passionate joy at the start of Chapter 50, the effect turned comic and I burst into peals of helpless giggling:His lips moved, but emitted no sound; —then his looks became unsettled; and, from the incoherent, half-uttered words that escaped him from time to time, supposing him to be now unconscious, I gently disengaged my hand from his, intending to steal away for a breath of air, for I was almost ready to faint; but a convulsive movement of the fingers, and a faintly whispered 'Don't leave me!' immediately recalled me: I took his hand again, and held it till he was no more — and then I fainted. It was not grief; it was exhaustion, that, till then, I had been enabled successfully to combat. Oh, Frederick! none can imagine the miseries, bodily and mental, of that death-bed! How could I endure to think that that poor trembling soul was hurried away to everlasting torment? It would drive me mad. But, thank God, I have hope — not only from a vague dependence on the possibility that penitence and pardon might have reached him at the last, but from the blessed confidence that, through whatever purging fires the erring spirit may be doomed to pass — whatever fate awaits it — still it is not lost, and God, who hateth nothing that He hath made, will bless it in the end! His body will be consigned on Thursday to that dark grave he so much dreaded; but the coffin must be closed as soon as possible. If you will attend the funeral, come quickly, for I need help.HELEN HUNTINGDON.On reading this I had no reason to disguise my joy and hope from Frederick Lawrence, for I had none to be ashamed of.This was also black-and-white in another way: its characters. Helen wasn’t just good, she was positively saintly, going back to nurse her detested husband. Arthur wasn’t just bad, he was an absolute fiend, feeding alcohol to his toddler son. There were no shades of grey. And the piety! Oh heavens, the piety! It was all so deadly earnest, all the time. I can’t really say that I disliked reading it: I felt for Gilbert and Helen and was happy when they ended up together. But, truly, when rolled up all together, this novel just didn’t do it for me. I can’t say I disliked it. All I can manage to say—tremblingly, quiveringly, faintly even, but nevertheless with a resolve dug up from the deepest depths of my being, and a fierce and steely determination—is that it was just okay.

  • Bethany
    2019-03-23 09:48

    I can't believe that this book isn't more widely read, I mean Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are usually mentioned when discussing classic works of fiction by women- yet this is relatively ignored. I honestly didn't know of this books existence before I went to the library and saw it on the shelf. I didn't know Anne had written anything other than poems. I often feel that Anne is in Emily and Charlotte's shadow but this piece of work is truly inspiring - perhaps more so at the time. A women left her disgraceful husband and survived purely on her own strength, talent and tenacity. This was as far as I know, unheard of in the time when this was written (I apologise- I am very ignorant about dates) and so for this I admire Anne Bronte for her persevering with this tale even in the face of public outcry. She makes the decision not to be naive to the realities of marriages at the time, so records it in fiction and for this she is truly inspiring. Anne desereves a lot more credit than she gets.Anyway, I highly recommend this book, it is full of love, strength and courage and if that isn't enough well, just read some of the other glowing reports on Goodreads.

  • Marieke
    2019-03-21 10:02

    That was a rather long letter, eh?

  • Merna
    2019-03-01 06:50

    In it's first publication 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' was described as being 'course' and 'disgusting.' I I can well imagine the impact that it had on prudish Victorians. However, it's very tame by today's standards and the shock element at all the debauchery portrayed in the novel is missing. A modern reader would just be like: 'Meh I've read worse.'Nevertheless, the message of this novel remains as firm as ever: don't marry a scumbag with the expectation that you can one day reform them through the power of love. I enjoyed The Tenant of Wildfell Hall more than I expected. I thought that due to its lack of popularity that it would be lame or boring in comparison to the other novels written by the Bronte sisters. Although the novel is not as great as Jane Eyre, I think it's equal to Wuthering Heights. The Romance between Gilbert and Helen did not interest me. It was quite lukewarm. I suppose that's the reason for its lack of popularity. It was Helen's story that really gripped me. If the story had revolved only around Gilbert (as it did in the beginning), I would have given it only two stars. Gilbert was quite a childish and petulant character. On the other hand, Helen was more of an admirable heroine.

  • Helle
    2019-03-18 10:01

    I finally read this novel by Anne Brontë, having read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights by her more famous sisters years ago. Coming away from this book, I conclude that her lesser fame is very much undeserved. This was a good book, well-written, highly controversial at the time, and the fact that she wrote this and Agnes Grey (which I have yet to read) before she died at the age of 29 tells us something about her potential and talent as a writer.Having visited the parsonage in Haworth, Yorkshire, in which the Brontë sisters grew up, just a few months ago, I found it especially thrilling to read this novel now. I enjoyed reading about the countryside and saw it vividly in my mind's eye (and should probably re-read Wuthering Heights, in which the moors and hills of Yorkshire play a greater role, as far as I remember). Although I love Jane Eyre and recently read it a second time, it seems to me that Charlotte Brontë's language or style was quite dramatic or romantic, which was occasionally a bit over the top for me. This is not the case in her sister Anne's style. I rather enjoyed the sometimes more sharp and clipped style, although she did become somewhat circumlocutious at times. The structure with the diary worked well for me, the letters by Gilbert (especially at the end) less so, but the overall storyline worked well. The only thing I really had an issue with was Helen's saintly piety, which was carried to extremes as we moved into the latter parts of the book and which annoyed me. This, howevever, was part of the foundation of the novel itself, and without it, I suspect there would have been no story. Apparently, Charlotte Brontë, upon the death of her sister Anne, prevented the novel's republication, possibly due to the topic chosen by Anne and its subsequent negative effect on her character, possibly due to jealousy. I wish I didn't know this about Charlotte Brontë as I certainly don't understand it given that the novel was received positively when it first came out.

  • C.A.
    2019-03-17 13:13

    Anne Bronte is severely, severely underrated. This book is fascinating. It's a work of quiet rebellion; the rebellion of Helen and of Anne herself, who is working to subvert some of the Romantic conventions. My edition had a great introduction that posited Helen as a Byronic hero. Admittedly I'm stuck on books that create the female artist (I actually think this has a lot in common with Emily's Quest-- the heroine coded with some male virtues of independence and mystery, the threat of the Heathcliff model to female artistry and self-realization, etc. etc). It's interesting to look at this and Agnes Grey together because you can see Anne's progression as a writer. Tenant still isn't as technically brilliant and innovative as Wuthering Heights is, but it's a mistake to dismiss Anne.

  • Rebecca Foster
    2019-03-05 08:57

    I moved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall up my to-read pile because it’s on the “Ten Best Novels for Thirtysomethings” list in The Novel Cure. I imagine Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin included it because the main plot and some subplots revolve around the unsuitable relationships people often find themselves trapped in: perhaps after the passion and idealism of one’s twenties, one’s thirties are more likely to be blighted by regret as the consequences of poor choices come to light.I imagine most readers will already be familiar with the basic plot, but if not...(view spoiler)[The chronology and structure of this novel struck me as very sophisticated: in 1847, gentleman farmer Gilbert Markham is writing a detailed letter to a friend, describing how he fell in love with the widow Helen Graham – the new tenant at Wildfell Hall, a painter who’s living there in secret – starting in the autumn of 1827. (I even wondered if this could have been one of the earliest instances of a female author writing from a male point-of-view.) Their interrupted and seemingly ill-fated courtship reminded me of Lizzy and Darcy’s in Pride and Prejudice: Gilbert initially thinks Helen stubborn and argumentative, especially in how she refuses to accept neighbors’ advice on how to raise her young son, Arthur. Gradually, though, he comes to be captivated by this intelligent and outspoken young woman on whose “lofty brow … thought and suffering seem equally to have stamped their impress.”And indeed, at the heart of Gilbert’s narrative is a lengthy journal by Helen herself, starting in 1821, explaining the misfortune that drove her to take refuge in the isolation of Wildfell Hall. For, as in Anne’s sister Charlotte’s Jane Eyre, there’s an impediment to the marriage of true minds in the form of a living spouse. Helen is still tied to Arthur Huntingdon, a dissolute alcoholic she married against her family’s advice and has ever since longed to see reformed. In a phrase I was highly bemused to see in use in the middle of the nineteenth century, she defends him thusly: “if I hate the sins I love the sinner, and would do much for his salvation.” The novel’s religious language may feel outdated in places, but the imagined psyche of a woman who stays with an abusive or at least neglectful partner is spot on.For the most part I enjoyed the story line, but I must confess that I wearied of Helen’s 260-page account, filled as it is with repetitive instances of her incorrigibly loutish husband’s carousing. I had a bit too much of her melodrama and goody-goody moralizing, such that it felt like a relief to finally get back to Gilbert’s voice. The last 100 pages, though, and particularly the last few chapters, are wonderful and race by. I loved this late metaphor for Helen’s chastened beauty:This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flower, but it has stood through hardships none of them could bear. The cold rain of winter has sufficed to nourish it, and its faint sun to warm it; the bleak winds have not blanched it or broken its stem, and the keen frost has not blighted it. Look, … it is still fresh and blooming as a flower can be, with the cold snow even now on its petals. (hide spoiler)]As always, I’m dumbfounded by the Brontës’ profound understanding of human motivation and romantic love given their sheltered upbringing. Theirs were wild hearts. I’ll always be a Charlotte fan first and foremost, but I was delighted with my first experience of Anne’s work and look forward to trying Agnes Grey in the near future. Lest you think Victorian literature is all po-faced, righteous ruminating, I’ll end with my favorite funny quote from the book. This is from Gilbert’s snide, sporty brother Fergus (I wish he’d had a larger role!), seeming to mock Jane Austen with this joke about needing to know everything about Helen Graham as soon as she arrives in town:“mind you bring me word how much sugar she puts in her tea, and what sort of caps and aprons she wears, and all about it, for I don’t know how I can live till I know,” said Fergus very gravely. But if he intended the speech to be hailed as a masterstroke of wit, he signally failed, for nobody laughed. However, he was not much disconcerted at that; for when he had taken a mouthful of bread and butter, and was about to swallow a gulp of tea, the humour of the thing burst upon him with such irresistible force that he was obliged to jump up from the table, and rush snorting and choking from the room.Originally published with images on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  • Ian
    2019-03-09 10:01

    April 1982 - Now here's a book everyone should check out if they are into the classics. This is the best from the under-acknowledged of the 3 sisters. Top reading for a dreamy Sunday afternoon in Winter in front of the fire.September 2017 - Ok after some 35 years I am providing a second opinion. This book has surpassed my expectations and I declare this book equal to Anne's Sisters works if not better in so many ways. I shall not spoil the plot but suffice to say that the storyline keeps one going, or at least it did for me, until the very end. If you want a tale of love, passion, sadness, jealousy and tortured souls look no further. I love my classics and this one has just risen in rank to join my top read ever.

  • Vivian
    2019-03-27 11:57

    A gothic Austen.It has been many years since I had read this and my rating remains unchanged at three stars because while there are parts I enjoyed a great deal and some lovely insights into women's lives there is a tremendous amount of liturgy and forbearance espoused, which I find to be quite chaffing. So, in the end this reads much more like a parable than a romance.The story is one long letter written by Gilbert Markham. As an epistolary it is quite easy to forget as Markham employs two viewpoints, his and Helen's. The first third is relayed via direct narration by Markham and is quite enjoyable with some atmospheric touches of gothic primarily via the unforgiving natural elements to set the mood. The second portion is quite long and relays Helen's viewpoint via diary; it is much more dramatic and filled with Christian scripture that embraces martyrdom, which to be honest is not my cup of tea - I only give one cheek, I'm just not that good a person. Then we enter the extended drawing out of things as they spiral wildly to extremes in ways only Brontes can do. Toss in some updated courtly love concepts and more martyrdom - yes, this all makes terrible sense as Bronte's father was a clergyman - and finally we get to the precious ending.All loose ends are tied up, any characters we might have had more than a brief introduction to is settled in bliss or eternal damnation, and thus the reader has the just desserts of their patience. I just don't read books that are nearly 600 pages with any regularity so that rolling pace swamped me, though to be honest, the severe morality of Helen was a bit much, especially in contrast to the wild cavorting of other characters. I would have much preferred Markham's narration even though he was prone to romanticism over Helen's which felt like it was delivered from a pulpit more often than not.There was a lot of what if your only purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.Favorite quote: ‘If such are your expectations of matrimony, Esther, you must, indeed, be careful whom you marry—or rather, you must avoid it altogether.’

  • Joseph
    2019-03-08 08:43

    The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of the books that had me banging my head as to why I have waited this long to find it. The Bronte sisters were on my neglected read list for 2013 so I started with the sister I didn't know, Anne. I liked Agnes Grey so I jumped into this book immediately after finishing Agnes Grey. Gilbert Markham is the story teller or more correctly the letter writer as the novel is the letter Gilbert is writing. Anne Bronte assumes the identity of Gilbert writing as a male for the first part of the book then the book switches to Gilbert reading Helen's (the tenant) diary. The switch reminded me of Virginia Woolf's Orlando; a near seamless switch of the story tellers sex. I will admit at the start of the book, I was wondering how a mid-nineteenth century woman would be able to carry the story out as a male narrator. It is, however, very well done. Alcohol is one of the major themes in the book. It destroys lives and marriages and although deadly, it is not hopeless some people can reform. The effects of alcohol are seen through the eyes of Helen Huntingdon (introduced as Helen Graham) in the second part of the novel. It affects those around her: her husband, his friends, her friends through the actions of their husbands, and even her young son. Faith plays a major role for Helen. No matter what happens she maintains her faith. Helen learns the role of a strong woman in the story and in someways goes against the norm of society at the time. She manages not to just and take all that is given to her as do some of the other women in the novel. Her friend Milicent who went from “a little plump lassie then, with a pretty pink and white face: now she's a poor little bit of a creature, fading and melting away like snow.” all at the age of five and twenty. Anne Bronte takes what can be seen as a realistic look at life in Victorian times and writes a compelling novel.

  • Vanessa
    2019-03-11 09:55

    4.5 stars. It's been a while since I've read a proper classic, so I was a little out of practice. It was also my first time reading a classic on my Kindle, so a lot of headaches ensued. Whether that was because of the Kindle reading or because of the content of the book, I'm still unsure. All I know is it was worth the brain pain.The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a fantastic feminist work to begin with. Anne Brontë dared to write brutally honestly about an abusive relationship, and on top of that, she dared to write a heroine who stood up to her unfair treatment and took matters into her own hands. The character of Helen is a strong-willed one, reminiscent of Jane Eyre (I know I know, we shouldn't compare but you have to give me this one). The experiences she has an the abuse she is faced with throughout much of the book is truly heartbreaking, and more often than not I became aware that I was grinding my teeth and clenching my fists with frustration and anger. For a Victorian novel, which of course would not be as shocking as books written in the 20th century, the events that took place were shocking enough.At times, the religious content bothered me - not because it was religious, but because of the impact it had on the events of the book. Although Helen was incredibly strong as a character, I sometimes felt her religious beliefs got in the way of her happiness, and there were things I would have had her do differently. Her decisions at times frustrated me, but at the end of the day, her willingness to survive in the horrific home environment she found herself in, and her determination not to give up and waste away was truly impressive.I'd highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great, immersive classic. It's written in an epistolary style, but it doesn't have a strong presence in the book, so I believe that even if this style isn't your thing, you'll love it anyway.

  • Viv JM
    2019-03-13 12:01

    3.5 starsThere were several things I liked about this book. I enjoyed the first section, narrated by Gilbert, that was a bit of a comedy of manners with some humorous touches. I enjoyed the feminist slant, with Helen being a strong character whose actions and words and views on a woman's place were way ahead of her time. I admired the fact that Anne Bronte tackled some strong taboos of her era including alcohol abuse, adultery and the general debauchery of some of the nobility. I am fascinated by the links to the story of Anne's own brother, Branwell, and his struggles with alcoholism and addiction. However, for me (and perhaps this is just my modern sensibilities), the temperance message was just a little too heavy handed, and I found Helen to be overly pious at times. The bad guys and gals all got their comeuppance (unless they reformed their ways) and the good, Christian folk all did well and lived happily and richly ever after. There was very little nuance in that regard.If you are going to read this book, I strongly recommend this Penguin Classics edition as I found the notes by Stevie Davis very useful especially in regard to explaining the numerous Biblical references, of which I was woefully ignorant, having been brought up in an atheist household!

  • Alun Williams
    2019-03-26 11:05

    I avoided reading any books by the Brontë sisters for many years, after failing to finish Villette, and then being put off further by Charlotte Brontë's well-known remarks about Jane Austen. After coming across an old copy of Jane Eyre I decided it was time to give the sisters another chance. I quite enjoyed Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights, which I read next, I liked less. Then I turned to Anne, not expecting much more than a paler version of her sisters' works.Instead I find myself reading one of the most powerful English 19th century novels there can be, reminiscent of Dickens in its exposure of the hypocrisies and wrongs of society, but with shock and anger against these expressed not by the author, but aroused in the reader by Anne's unsparing descriptions of events."The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is the story of a mysterious woman, Helen Graham, apparently a young widow with a child, and the development, after initial suspicion on her part, of friendship and finally love for a local farmer named Gilbert Markham. But, much more darkly, it is the story of a woman who learns the real nature of her adulterous husband, as he gradually descends into neglect and then abuse (of both her and their child), and is ravaged by alcoholism.Few men of the time would have dared to write so frankly on such topics, and for a woman to have done so, especially one of Anne's background, is verging on the heroic, and must be counted a remarkable achievement.At times the heroine, Helen, may strike some readers as pious or priggish - she reminded me of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park - and the author's firmly expressed Christian beliefs may also put some off. But nobody can fail to admire Helen's courage, endurance, and determination to protect her son.Another review also suggests that Gilbert is not well drawn. However, I enjoyed the portrayal of his relations with his family and neighbours, though it is true that he is perhaps unaccountably violent and over-emotional at some points.