Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte


So, my introduction to the youngest Ms Bronte early the year was a little lukewarm - It's not that Agnes Grey was bad, it just... wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. Or, to be more honest with myself, I wasn't as able to ken it as I would have liked. Wildfell Hall has not this problem, and is now entering as the third member of my holy trinity of Bronte novels alongside Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre (in all honesty, I liked it better than Jane Eyre. It's more difficult to compare it to Wuthering Heights, they're very different books).

Wildfell Hall was a fairly straightforward book, concerning the fates and fortunes of a young woman who suffers through a painful marriage - even that is talking too much, though. I very seldom think much about spoilers, because usually I just don't care if a book surprises me or not in determining whether I like it. And Wildfell Hall didn't surprise me, anyway - I knew what it was about before I started. But, it's easy to go into this book, having decided what it is before you start - and if you're looking for a sad-marriage-story and nothing more, I think it's very easy to get that. There is so much more to the book, though, for me, that to just read this is a melodrama is to miss the best of Anne's quiet intelligence.

I would also say that, while I know the Brontes are far more popular with women, this is a book that, as a person of the male persuasion, I'm particularly glad I read (which is not to discourage women from reading it to any degree, just to encourage men). Ms Bronte is a very sensitive portrait painter, and the men in this book come through as honest, believable, and human, in a way that made me connect with them - something I honestly usually have trouble doing, with male characters - and thereby see things abotu my own role in our male-dominated world that our society is designed to normally veil from us. This book, much like Tender Morsels earlier this year, has teh powerful distinction that I feel I am a better human being for having read it.

I know the review is vague, but again, I don't want to hammer your brain into my thoughts if you want to read it - it's the sort of book that ought to teach you about the self you brought to read it.


L said...

Excellent! I loved this book too. And the movie is great as well. I wonder if her association with her brother Branwell helped her fine tune her depth of perception of men in general. It couldn't have hurt anyway.
Anne never got the honor she deserved for her writing while she was alive. She really did deserve it.

Amanda said...

I agree, good book. I liked Jane Eyre better, because Tenant felt a little heavy-handed to me, but it was far better than Wuthering Heights. It's funny, because I don't see that JE and Tenant are any more similar than Tenant and WH...

Julie said...

Love how you ended this review:'s the sort of book that ought to teach you about the self you brought to read it.

Sounds amazing! Well said!

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I have this on the shelf and need to read it - maybe early in 2010 (that looks so strange!).

Unknown said...

Ms Lula - I have never seen the movie. I agree, living with Branwell must have given her some good source material!
Amanda - See, I think Jane is 'a little heavy-handed' at times. Funny how you can read something differently, isn't it?
Ms Julie - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Ms Mary - I'm glad I sparked you wanting to reread it! I'm going to try to read Shirley next year - I THINK that's the last of the Bronte novels that I haven't read (except 'The Professor' which I'm on the fence whether I want to read).

Rebecca Reid said...

I have this on my RIP challenge list but I'm pretty sure I won't get to it in the next two weeks :(. I am so glad to hear that it is so excellent, though! I must move it up the priority list!

I too love the last sentence. It makes me even more excited to get to it!

Unknown said...

Ms Reid - Sorry you won't get to read it right away, but glad you have it on your shortlist :). Thanks for the compliment :).