22 February, 2018


Title: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Author:  Anne Brontë
Series: -
Genres: Classics, Romance
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release: 1848
Source: Audiobook
Pages: 542

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Note: Editions of The Tenant that start with: "You must go back with me..." are incomplete. Actual opening line of the novel is: "To J. Halford, Esq. Dear Halford, when we were together last..."

Helen Graham moves to Wildfell Hall in a shroud of mystery: where has she come from, and who exactly is she?

Anne's novel is the story of the beautiful and mysterious Helen Graham, who arrives at Wildfell Hall suddenly one day. No-one knows who she is or where she has come from, and Gilbert Markham, a young farmer who has fallen in love with her, sets out to find some answers. This is an ambitious and successful work that is a real pleasure to listen to.


EXPECTATIONS: We, Martyna and I, have read Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë as a buddy read and decided to check out more of her work as we are very intrigued by Bronte sisters writing.

THE WORLD: Set sometime in 19th century if I remember correctly, the time really when women could either be governess or get married and take care of the children. There are actually two time points in this book set apart by about 20 years. First we meet our heroine and get to know her a little bit but then when she finally opens up we hear her whole story starting the time when she was very young and about to be engaged. Now I like me some good memory books but this one was much more than that. I loved the way it was done, the present story and the past were done in such way that they could have been two books. There was no mix and match where you cannot say which time period you are in, everything had the order and continuation and the transition into the present was so well done that I haven't even thought of it up till now. This book reads incredibly smooth.

CHARACTERS: Our main character is called Helen, I will not give you her surname as that would spoil the mystery. At first when we meet Helen we actually see her through the eyes of another character Gilbert Markham who is interested by Helen's mysterious past but for a while it is mainly because he is bored. Later when Helen finally tells her story we get to meet young Helen, a rather naive girl who is not sure of anything. The way Helen's character was developed, how she grew was so realistic and even the times when I was practically frowning at her decisions it was still not because of annoyance but because she was acting so human. It is same with all characters really, tho I will not discuss any in detail just to keep the mystery intact. You just going to have to trust me on this, the development of the characters and the journeys they took was done so well that Agnes Grey in comparison feels like a child's story.

ROMANCE: There definitely is romance in the book and it was done very thoughtful and beautiful.

GOOD: I am once again amazed how good some classics are and instead we are forced to read something like Charles Dickens in school who wrote majority of his books for commission. One can learn so much from this book even today, it did not in any way read as an outdated classic that we cannot relate to.

BAD: It was a slightly bit old and I could not help but compare this book to Tess by Thomas Hardy who so shocked me by it's brilliance. But it does not mean this book is any less, in fact if you compare Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte must have been a genius!

OVERALL: I am incredibly happy to be accounted with Anne Brontë's writing because frankly I know work of other Brontë sisters but Anne was a mystery to me. And interesting fact is that the reason Anne is so in the shadows is because after her death Charlotte Brontë publicly announced that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a horrible book and pulled it out of the publishing. There are many speculations why she did it but really when you compare this book with Charlotte's best work Jane Eyre well...I will leave it for you to decide. But I do truly believe that if Charlotte did not ruin reputation of this book it would have been as known as Pride and Prejudice


EXPECTATIONS: We had this as a buddy read. This book was second Anne Brontë, and I have to say the Bronte sisters were a truly talented creatures! I mean I did enjoy Agnes Grey but compared to this book!!! I would definitely recommend reading this one instead! Let me explain why:

THE WORLD: The time is somewhere in the 19th century. We have a small town with multiple houses to rent and people are sort of coming and going. A young widow Helen moves in with her young son and a maid and our main lead Gilbert gets a fancy on her. I mean we get to see a lot of different perspectives in this book and thus, we understand how different the world looked in different characters eyes. We get to see the male side, the female side, the old traditions and customs versus the new ones. It was interesting. I mean I know a lot about 19th century by now, having read multiple books and watched multiple movies, but something in this book made me very happy to have a perspective.

CHARACTERS: As I said, our main character from which we get our first perspective is Gilbert. I found him - cool. He was this a man beyond his time. He was not a Victorian man. For instance there's a passage where his mother tells his sister Rose, that in a household a woman must always do and think of what will suit the husband or man of the house best, anything would do for a woman, to which Gilbert replies that he would prefer his mother doing more for herself, and when we will be married he will the one making his wife happy, since he wants to give not to receive. To his mother such idea is stupid and just insulting, but Gilbert is a revolutionary man! After reading this I truly fell in love with Gilbert. Just in general he was such a good character, a good man!

Our female lead is the very mysterious Helen, who comes to town with her son Arthur and lives in the Wildfell Hall. He is of little words, she usually keeps to herself, she keeps a distance from everyone, but slowly starts to befriend Gilbert, since her son and Gilbert really become friends. Helen was also a revolutionary woman! My God was she amazing! Once again let me demonstrate how ahead of time she was! Gilbert's mother, the Mrs., I know everything, tells Helen her son is too feminine since he is so close to her, to that Helen basically says, she would rather have him a sissy or feminine then without a heart! Brava Helen, now that's a mom! As the book goes on, you do get to know Helen better, since second part of the book is her diary, so you understand why she is this way, why she became this way and what happened! Applause, admiration and amazement is all I can say!

I also loved Rachel, Arthur's nanny and Helen's maid! She was also a strong character!

I will not give out the name of one character, but I did enjoy the villain in this book. I was very interested, I want to know more about this character, why was this character this way, what trauma in life caused such behavior.

ROMANCE: Helen and Gilbert.

GOOD: This book was way way way ahead of his time. It deals with such important topics and problems that I can only imagine the shock people must have felt when they first read it! Also this book is very quotable. I want to share with you some of the most beautiful quotes:

“if I hate the sins, I love the sinner, and would do much for his salvation”

“My nature was not originally calm,' said I. 'I have learned to appear so by dint of hard lessons and many repeated efforts.”  

'Beauty is that quality which, next to money, is generally the most attractive to the worst kinds of men'
I mean...beyond beautiful!

BAD: It did sometimes get a little to slow for me.

OVERALL: In general I have to say this. During all these months of doing the buddy read we have read very very strong books. Strong in the sense of how strong women had to be. We read about strong women, about what they had to go threw! I mean such books just make me more proud to be a woman, to be strong and show my sharp mind and strong will and be brave and teach other girls the same values! So please everyone, go and read these books, because they will bring value to your life, value to understand how important it is to have belief in yourself, to be strong and united!


What do you think about THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL?


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