Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Author: Anne Bronte

Edition: Worth Literary Classics

Rating: 5/5 stars

Part of the Book Blurb (cuz the rest contains spoilers): “The novel is framed as a series of letters from Gilbert Markham to his friend and brother-in-law about the events leading to his meeting his wife. A mysterious young widow arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and servant. She lives there in strict seclusion under the assumed name Helen Graham and very soon finds herself the victim of local slander. Refusing to believe anything scandalous about her, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, discovers her dark secrets…”

I enjoyed this read. Are those the right words? It was a tough read – the book does not shy way from talking about domestic abuse and alcoholism – I am a bit in shock that I am thinking, if you want to see examples of abuse and “gaslighting”, you should pick up this novel written in 1848. It was so accurate it was chilling. I put some of my favorite quotes in my last update as the beauty of the language and Anne Bronte’s ability to make me “feel” was what made this a five star read.

An unpopular opinion? Well honestly I don’t know if it is – but I did not really care for Mr. Markham. Though he was no Mr. Huntingdon, he seemed emotionally unstable- impulsive, demonstrated a lack of discernment, and was selfish at times. His treatment of Frederick annoyed me, as did his focus on himself towards the end of the novel – I was less than pleased with him. The part that gave me hope though was when he said,

“I am no martyr to it now, as you can bear me witness : I have learned to be merry and wise, to be more easy with myself and more indulgent to my neighbors…”

Well I certainly hope you learned to chill the heck out, Markham. Cuz we would not have been friends.

Then again, maybe I judge him too harshly. After all, love makes you do crazy things.

Helen is a great character. She is that friend you want to wake up and see that they are making a huge mistake when it comes to their choice of boyfriend/mate but that is so stubborn and blinded… yet I never stopped liking her and rooting for her. Her realization of what she has gotten herself into is difficult to read. I don’t agree with all her choices, but I understood them and where she was coming from when she made them.

There are characters in this book that provoked strong emotion when it came to their behavior. Whew, 2020 me wanted to give them a piece of my mind.

Overall, I am so surprised at how accessible and relatable this read was. I do highly recommend it with trigger warnings for domestic abuse. Definitely a 5 star read.

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