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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2011
Anne Brontë (1820-1849) has published two books: 'Agnes Grey' (1847) and 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall' (1848). In this book a young woman, Helen Graham, and her young son arrive in a small village and rent Wildfell Hall. She works as a artist to support herself and her child. The villagers try to find out who she is and what her background is. Helen does not tell a lot about herself and the villagers start gossiping about her. It turns out that Helen has fled from her alcoholic and abusive husband.

At the time this book was written, it was not only considered morally wrong for a wife to leave her husband, but it was even against the law. According to some this book was (one of) the first feminist novel(s). Themes in this book are: alcoholism, gender relations, Victorian moral and the (lack of) rights of women. The alcoholic husband is believed to be based on Anne Brontë's brother Branwell.

This Kindle edition has 6421 'locations', which is compareable to over 350 pages in print in paperback.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2012
Apparently, the main reason Anne Brontë's masterpiece is not as well known as her sisters' is that Charlotte suppressed any new editions after her death, as the novel was deemed extremely shocking for its time. This is very unfortunate, as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is much better than Anne's previous book, Agnes Grey, better even than Emily's Wuthering Heights, and nearly as good as Charlotte's Jane Eyre. Like Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall examines the roles of reason and passion in life and concludes that both are necessary to achieve happiness. More specifically, Wildfell Hall is about how to judge other people's characters, particularly in matters of love. These themes are brilliantly dramatized through a story about a woman who makes a youthful, but profound, error in whom she chooses to marry, and as her husband's vicious nature becomes increasingly clear, struggles to leave him---and how she herself is unfairly judged by her new neighbors when she manages to do so. (While I'm sure Anne didn't intend it this way, given her Christian piety, the novel could be read as a good argument for liberal divorce laws and the wisdom of cohabitation before marriage.)

Many people sharply contrast the romanticism of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre with the realism of Wildfell Hall, but this is a mistake---and, despite its more frank depictions of some of the social problems of its time (including alcoholism and domestic abuse), Anne rejected this dichotomy in the novel itself:

"'But romantic notions will not do: I want her to have true notions.'

"'Very right: but in my judgment, what the world stigmatises as romantic, is often more nearly allied to the truth than is commonly supposed; for, if the generous ideas of youth are too often over-clouded by the sordid views of after-life, that scarcely proves them to be false.'"

This is related to the broader theme about the dichotomy of reason and passion, which she also rejects, so that analysis more or less misses the whole point of the novel.

Like Jane Eyre (and to a lesser extent Wuthering Heights), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an intellectual and emotional tour de force, and one of the greatest classics in all of world literature. It's a real tragedy that Anne died even younger than her sisters before she could write anything else. Four and a half stars.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2013
I just finished Anne Brontë's 2nd novel and I found it an absolute page turner...Anne's reputation as the lesser Brontë sister seems very unfounded and I guess Charlotte started that ball rolling back in the day with "the gentle Anne" stuff and saying this novel was a "mistake" , hardly!

I feel like an unknown Brontë novel just fell out of a cupboard at the Parsonage , yet it's been in plain sight all along !

Anne was a real Brontë and let me just say, "gentle Anne" stayed in an outside job years and years longer that any other Brontë off spring ever could. Anne was tough. There was grit in that gentleness, that's the best kind .

Like all Brontës, Anne's dialogue is so modern and fast moving! I'm going to have to read it again to see what I missed in my haste! It's not Jane Eyre...but it can stand next to JE in pride...and how many novels can say that?

Many miss a good read passing it by and it's a shame. Reading this excellent book also now makes, to me, Anne's passing at 29 an even keener tragedy. One becomes more aware of world's untimely loss; not just of more Anne Brontë books, but of Anne Brontë

Anne Brontë wanted to make a mark before leaving this world.

Well Anne, you did
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2011
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sometimes kept me quite engaged and at other times seemed a bit dull. I thought it was at its best when Helen was communicating through her letters. Her character was well developed and I could understand her feelings and why she made many of her decisions. The parts where Gilbert was the main character were more difficult for me to get through. Perhaps it was simply that I had a hard time empathizing with him. He seemed very self-centered, stuffy and unable or unwilling to empathize with others. He often misinterpreted others' comments or actions and I sometimes felt like giving him a piece of my mind to put it mildly.

The book gives a good look at the culture at the time. For example, I could see how women in those days were treated as little more than possessions by their husbands and parents. It was interesting to see how a few of the girls and women struggled to be able to marry whom they wished or to obtain rights that we take for granted today.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book is at least as good (if not better) than her more famous sisters- Charlotte's "Jane Eyre" or Emily's "Wuthering Heights." At the time of its first printing in 1848, Anne's "Tenant" was a shocking "feminist" novel that addressed the unsavory behavior of a husband--including alcoholism, cursing, emotional abuse, and unfaithfulness-topics that at the time were considered "coarse" and unfit for publication. Nevertheless, Anne's book, originally published under the pseudonym "Acton Bell" was wildly popular. When a second printing was necessary after Anne's premature death in 1849 (at age 29) her sister Charlotte blocked the republish, claiming she wanted to "protect" her sister's good name--although oddly, she did not do the same for Emily's equally provocative "Wuthering Height." Because of this, "Tenant" remained unpublished for 15 years and fell into obscurity while Charlotte and Emily became well-known and widely published. It is my opinion that if Anne had lived a little longer or Charlotte had allowed "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" to be republished, Anne would've been the most famous of the Bronte sisters. She was definitely the best storyteller/writer of the three! I highly recommend this classic, especially if you are looking for a book to generate a great discussion within a book club!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2013
I don't get why Anne Bronte is the ignored sister. I definitely love this more than Jane Eyre and possibly even more than Wuthering Heights. The novel was possibly a lot more daring for it's time than the other two works as well since it told the story of exactly how bad a marriage (even to a rich man) might actually be and how much a woman might need to leave her husband, defending her right to leave and find love elsewhere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 2012
I am going to review this book from the point of view of somebody reading it for pleasure, rather than studying it. I want to say first that this book starts out a little slow, but stay with it because it gets much, much better. What I really liked about it is that the plot twists and turns so that I really wasn't sure how the book would end.

At the beginning the narrator is Gilbert, a gentlemen farmer. He becomes intrigued by the new female tenant at run-down Wildfell Hall. This part of the book is not a page turner, but when the narration is picked up by Helen, the aforementioned tenant, the pace picks up. At that point I didn't want to put my Kindle down.

Without giving away too much of the plot, it's the story of marriage gone wrong. The reader knows Helen should listen to her aunt, and not marry shallow, weak Arthur--but she does. Things go terribly wrong, and we see how making a bad marriage choice--or having one's family make that choice for you--often doomed women to lives of misery. However, there are many surprises ahead for Helen and the reader.

I don't know why this book by Anne Bronte isn't as well known as those by her sisters. I think this book is much better than Wuthering Heights, and as good as Jane Eyre. The only negative thing I saw in this book is a bit too much moralizing. Anne Bronte was obviously a "rules & regulations" Christian. She was very inflexible about what had to be done to earn your way into salvation. Therefore, Helen can be rather uptight at times. One can almost sympathize with Arthur. However, it is very easy to skim over the scenes where Helen gets preachy.

The plot line of this book is so unusual for the time. I was put in mind a bit of Thomas Hardy, except the tone is not as dark and moody as his books are.

Definitely worth reading, and can't beat that price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2012
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall suggests that, had she lived, Anne Bronte would have been the greatest artist in her literary family. Not only does this realistic novel tell a story that might have been ripped from the headlines of 2012, but Bronte structures her novel in a highly unconventional way. Rather than a straightforward narrative, Tenant wraps an epistolary tale of letters from farmer Gilbert Markham to a friend around the diary of mysterious Helen Graham, the tenant who intrigues Markham. Each of these characters narrates his own story -- Markham describing how his life and love was upended by the arrival of the beautiful but standoffish painter and her young son at a broken-down manor house with only a few rooms fit for habitation and Graham explaining the circumstances that led woman of wealth and breeding to a life as an impoverished hermit in nosy and small-minded rural environs. Through the eyes of Markham and Graham, Bronte depicts the maliciousness of small-town gossips and the debauchery of the wealthy elite, showing her readers a 19th century England that is very far from the village cosiness and court splendor of more well-known novels. She peoples her story with an array of vivid characters, high born and low, who provide a evocative panorama of 19th century English life. Yet this is the story of Gilbert and Helen, an unlikely pair of lovers but ones who readers root for through all the twists and turns of this most modern of tales
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2012
The book is about the concept of pro choice for women(not limited to reproductive right, but in general quality of life issues, to choose one's own path), and about the willingess to pay and endure the price (no matter how unjust it may be). Choosing the responsible freedom over the neurotic necessity! I was blown away by the author's courage to break out of the coerced expectations and phony propriety, and to boldly address the taboos, the elephant in the middle of the room--as my friend says, "like telling them about the existence of fake orgasm"--about the irreconcilable differences and the notion of merit even in marriages of her time. The author does not mince words, very appropriately acerbic about the delusions of romance and marriage. An incredibly refreshing book of her era.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2013
I'm relatively new to these old classics, but I'm so happy that I read this one! Oh how to sum up a novel such as this in a few words!
Helen is an incredibly strong character (to say the least), you see her go through immense turmoil both emotionally as well as spiritually. She holds firm to her integrity and is guided by her strong moral compass and her faith. This is not to say that she wasn't tempted... You feel her spirit soar with hope at times, then you see her torment. It's ultimately a love story that is worth reading and savoring. Who knows, you may even learn something from it! The following is personally, my favorite quote from this book.
"This rose is not so fragrant as a summer flower, but it has stood through hardships none of them could bear."
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