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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

by Anne Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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4,024841,270 (3.94)2 / 279
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English (81)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
This must be Anne Bronte year for me. I read both of her books (she only has two, right?) this year for the first time. I have mixed feelings about this book. It's the story of Helen Huntingdon, who is married to a complete jerk. He's an alcoholic who has numerous affairs under her roof and tries to corrupt their young son to his lifestyle. The corruption of her son is the deal breaker for her so she escapes and of course meets a new love interest, Gilbert Markham. I like Gilbert a lot. He makes mistakes (like when he unknowingly beats up her brother) and acts childish a lot of the time, but he has good intentions and seems to have a good heart. I liked that Helen is the one that takes things by the hand and basically proposes to Gilbert in the end and also that she has all the money and will be providing for the couple. Pretty much the opposite of most books of this era, where the impoverished heroine has to snag a rich husband who she hopefully (sometimes too conveniently) loves.

What I didn't like about this book was the pacing. It dragged on a bit for me and the story lent itself to being much more exciting than it ended up being. I think having it told through letters and journals kind of hindered the book. I can imagine it being a deeper, more complex novel if it had not been in first person. On the other hand, Agnes Grey, told through the title character's journal, worked really well for that story, and overall, though I think I'm in the minority on this one, I liked it better. ( )
  japaul22 | Aug 19, 2014 |
Helen Graham rents the small cottage Wildfell Hall and move in there with her little son and the faithful maid-servant.. People in the small village are curious. Who is she? What is her background. She’s evidently a widow - but not very eager to share about her life. And of course all kinds of rumors starts going around in the nosy little community.

The young farmer Gilberg Markham falls in love with her - and starts to win her confidence. She will reveal her past to him in a long diary that takes up most part of the novel. She is in fact married to Arthur Huntingdon - a very mean and vile kind of husband and father.

It is at times painful reading, and no surprise the public was chocked at the detailed glimpse into this bleak portrayal of marital tragedy - which includes the detrimental effects of alcohol, adultury and bad friends.

I liked this second reading even better than the first. Also I would recommend the BBC tv-series adaptation from 1996 with Tara Fitzgerald as Helen Graham. ( )
2 vote ctpress | Jul 27, 2014 |
I listened to this as an audiobook and really enjoyed it. It is still very relevant in many ways even if easy access to divorce may make it seem less so on superficial appearance. In fact, Helen's refusal to compromise her spiritual and moral principles are very similar to Jane Eyre's own refusal to do so. And I can see why it was controversial at the time, when women were expected to put up and shut up, regardless of the misery this might bring them. A very good read. ( )
  infjsarah | Jul 6, 2014 |
The Short of It:

A scandalous novel for its time.

The Rest of It:

Published in 1848, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall tells the story of Helen Graham, a woman whose unfortunate marriage forces her to make some difficult decisions for herself and her son.

This book has a little bit of everything to make a reader happy. There’s the scandalous story of Helen and her husband Author Huntingdon. Probably one of the most self-indulgent men you could ever meet. His love of drink and fine things leads them to financial ruin and Helen has no choice but to leave him, which of course is frowned upon greatly by society at large. She ends up at Wildfell Hall and introduces herself as a widow. She quickly becomes the infatuation of Gilbert, who lives across the way. A new, interesting woman that he can talk to. So unlike the frivolous girls he comes across daily. But when another man enters the picture, Gilbert questions her and in return, is handed her diary which tells her sordid tale.

Most of the story is told through diary entries. At first, I didn’t mind this but it went on for quite a long time and I began to lose interest in the story itself, but the real discussion is the history of the book itself. My book club picked this book for June and there was plenty to say about it. For one, Anne Bronte based many of the characters on people she knew, she wrote it under a pen name and it was originally published in three volumes, and when she passed away, her sister Charlotte refused its republication. It wasn’t until Charlotte’s death that it was published in one volume. Charlotte felt the book was “course” and not fit for publication.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an important book for many reasons. It deals with some very heavy themes for the time, gender relations, motherhood, alcoholism and abuse in marriage. Even though it was written in 1848, it has a very contemporary feel to it, probably because many of the issues Bronte includes are issues that we still deal with today.

The one criticism we all shared, was that the ending seemed rushed. Perhaps Bronte’s illness forced her to finish the book quickly or perhaps the book in its republication was cut down when made into one volume? What fascinated me the most was the Bronte family. Such talent and yet, so much tragedy. The three sisters all died from consumption and the brother became an alcoholic.

Overall, I am beginning to believe that I am more of a Bronte gal, than an Austen gal. Last year, I began Jane Eyre and have been reading it slowly (and loving it) and I must say The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a refreshing surprise.

For more reviews, visit my blog: Book Chatter. ( )
  tibobi | Jun 19, 2014 |
Wowzer. If you thought the characters in [b:Wuthering Heights|6185|Wuthering Heights|Emily Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1165555437s/6185.jpg|1565818] were overly violent, unpleasant, and responsible for their own miseries, then I recommend that you stay away from this book.

The epistolary structure didn't do this book any favors, in my opinion, and since there was very little character development, I wasn't terribly invested in the characters' fates. I read online that Arthur Huntingdon was based on Branwell, though, which made me appreciate it a bit more. ( )
  thatotter | Feb 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
"profane expressions, inconceivably coarse language, and revolting scenes and descriptions by which its pages are disfigured"
added by GYKM | editSharpe's London Magazine
 
"a morbid love for the coarse, not to say the brutal"
added by GYKM | editSpectator
 
"The reader of Acton Bell gains no enlarged view of mankind, giving a healthy action to his sympathies, but is confined to a narrow space of life, and held down, as it were, by main force, to witness the wolfish side of his nature literally and logically set forth."
added by GYKM | editNorth American Review
 

» Add other authors (57 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosengarten, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Mrs. HumphryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827.
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Book description
A woman recounts her difficult marriage to an alcoholic and her battles with society's double standards when she leaves him, taking her son with her.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140434747, Paperback)

"I no longer love my husband – I HATE him! The word stares at me in the face like a guilty confession"

Gilbert Markham is deeply intrigued by Helen Graham, a beautiful and secretive young woman who has moved into nearby Wildfell Hall with her young son. He is quick to offer Helen his friendship, but when her reclusive behaviour becomes the subject of local gossip and speculation, Gilbert begins to wonder whether his trust in her has been misplaced. It is only when she allows Gilbert to read her diary that the truth is revealed and the shocking details of the disastrous marriage she has left behind emerge. Told with great immediacy, combined with wit and irony, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful depiction of a woman’s struggle for domestic independence and creative freedom.

In her introduction Steve Davies discusses The Tenant of Wildfell Hall as feminist testament, inspired by Anne Brontë’s experiences as a governess and by the death of her brother Branwell Brontë, and examines the novel’s language, biblical references and narrative styles.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:36:24 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

The mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall is a strong-minded woman who keeps her own counsel. Helen 'Graham' - exiled with her child to the desolate moorland mansion, adopting an assumed name and earning her living as a painter - has returned to Wildfell Hall in flight from a disastrous marriage. Narrated by her neighbour Gilbert Markham, and in the pages of her own diary, the novel portrays Helen's eloquent struggle for independence at a time when the law and society defined a married woman as her husband's property.… (more)

» see all 19 descriptions

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Audible.com

Eleven editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Three editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434747, 0141035633, 0141199350

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