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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (original 1848; edition 2011)

by Anne Brontë

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4,6751091,013 (3.94)3 / 377
Title:The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Authors:Anne Brontë
Info:CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2011), Paperback, 394 pages
Collections:Kindle Edition, Classic, Book Club Read
Tags:Fiction, Classics, Alcoholism, Marriage, 19th Century, Book Club Read, Read 2013

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (1848)


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English (105)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All (108)
Showing 1-5 of 105 (next | show all)
Helen Graham, the enigmatic new tenant of Wildfell Hall, has a dark secret – but not the one circulating amongst local gossips. Gilbert Markham, who falls for the young “widow” will be shocked to realize her truth, which is revealed to him through her dairies. Mrs Graham has fled with her young son, Arthur, from a cruel marriage. Her writings tell the story of the physical and moral decay of her husband, his alcoholism, and their marital breakdown. In order to be spared the unbearable pain of watching her son be raised in his father’s image, Helen has done what was unimaginable to the Victorian woman and has fled both husband and home. Under an assumed name, she travels to a location that remains secret from all but her brother.

Not surprisingly, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall – a hard-hitting critique of the position of Victorian women in society – shocked contemporary readers. Both critics and readers alike were stunned by its coarseness. Truthfully, though I am not a stranger to the plight of Victorian women, the novel still retains its power to shock, or in the very least disturb. A most memorable passage on a “confiscation of property”:

"My painting materials were laid together on the corner table, ready for to-morrow’s use, and only covered with a cloth. He soon spied them out, and putting down the candle, deliberately proceeded to cast them into the fire: palette, paints, bladders, pencils, brushes, varnish: I saw them all consumed: the palette-knives snapped in two, the oil and turpentine sent hissing and roaring up the chimney. He then rang the bell.

'Benson, take those things away,’ said he, pointing to the easel, canvas, and stretcher; ‘and tell the housemaid she may kindle the fire with them: your mistress won’t want them any more.'" (Ch 40)

But I do not wish to leave prospective readers with the impression that all is gloom and doom in The Tenant – such is not the case at all! Other central themes in the novel include the power of faith, forgiveness, repentance – and “the infectious theme of love.” (Ch 51) Highly recommended, particularly to lovers of Victorian classics. ( )
7 vote lit_chick | Mar 22, 2017 |
I loved this book. I did skip the sermon-like paragraphs, which might make me a bad Victorianist, but it was at times George Eliot-like didacticism. Anne wrote a better heroine than Emily or Charlotte, though my heart will always belong to Jane and Mr. Rochester. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Published in 1848, this novel is a true feminist manifesto, arguing for a woman's rights to independence and acting as a warning on the pitfalls of romantic marriage. Helen 'Graham', and young widow, is a new arrival in a small town in Yorkshire, where she and her young son take up a few rooms at the creepy old Wildfell Hall. Told in epistolary form, it begins with the narration of Gilbert Markham, one of the inhabitants of the town who takes a great and immediate liking to the young mother. She becomes the target of much gossip and speculation, at first because of her odd quirks; she refuses to be separated from her son even for short visits, doesn't return social calls, and soon thereafter because she is suspected of having a romantic relationship with her landlord, the young Frederick Lawrence. We learn about Helen's recent past when the narration switches to her diary, in which she describes her disastrous marriage and how she came to live in Wildfell Hall. Helen is a talented artist who must support herself through her paintings, becoming self-supportive after being forced to take matters in her own hands following her ill-fated love match to Arthur Huntingdon. Themes of faith, loyalty and morality play a large part in the story, as they do in most (all?) of the Brontë sisters oeuvre, and this is understandable, but the choices our heroine makes out of her moral convictions are both admirable and maddeningly frustrating in turns, which only enforces the message of how limited a woman's options were and how much self-sacrifice was expected of a mother and wife. I've not given it the full four-stars, because of how frustrated I was with Helen at times, but it's a great read in the romantic gothic style and no doubt was a strong inspiration for feminists at times when the word itself had only recently been coined (in 1851). ★★★¾ ( )
1 vote Smiler69 | Aug 13, 2016 |
Gilbert Markham is a young man falls for a woman who has moved into a large house in his neighborhood. Her background is a bit of a mystery. As Gilbert becomes more attached her past is slowly revealed in the form of a journal.

The titular character, Helen Graham, escaped from an abusive marriage with her young son. I was in awe of Anne Bronte’s ability to tell such a relevant story in 1848. There are so many women who find themselves in the same situation today. She was young and naïve when she married Arthur Huntingdon and by the time she learned his true character it was too late.

The writing is wonderful and for me that story pulled me in completely. The author tells the story from Gilbert’s point-of-view at times and from Helen’s at other times. The changing narrative flowed well and never rang false.

Bronte covers some intense subjects in the book. In addition to infidelity and alcoholism, she makes some disturbing observations about women’s rights during this time period. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come in the last few years.

BOTTOM LINE: For me, this Bronte novel fell right under Jane Eyre in my ranking. The characters aren’t as likeable, but the story is powerful.

“If you would have your son to walk honorably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them - not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.”

“When I tell you not to marry without love, I do not advise you to marry for love alone: there are many, many other things to be considered. Keep both heart and hand in your own possession, till you see good reason to part with them; and if such an occasion should never present itself, comfort your mind with this reflection, that though in single life your joys may not be very many, your sorrows, at least, will not be more than you can bear. Marriage may change your circumstances for the better, but, in my private opinion, it is far more likely to produce a contrary result.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Aug 11, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 105 (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 (44 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agutter, JennyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jennings, AlexNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosengarten, HerbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stephens, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, Mrs. HumphryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To J. Halford, Esq. Dear Halford, when we were together last...
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:23 -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)

(summary from another edition)

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: March group read in 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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Average: (3.94)
1 7
1.5 1
2 28
2.5 10
3 206
3.5 77
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4.5 54
5 248


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

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140434747, 0141035633, 0141199350

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