This is an absolutely indispensable and priceless book. You can skip about and fall in love with each and every chapter in this book! So incredibly enThis is an absolutely indispensable and priceless book. You can skip about and fall in love with each and every chapter in this book! So incredibly enlightening. Gilbert is brilliant!...more
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a superb novel! It had a gripping plot that grabbed me from the first page and didn't let up until the last page. I liThe Tenant of Wildfell Hall was a superb novel! It had a gripping plot that grabbed me from the first page and didn't let up until the last page. I liked the narrative style of the novel too. Anne Bronte uses the perspectives of her two primary protagonists, Mr. Gilbert Markham, and Mrs. Helen Graham, extraordinarily effectively through the use of diary entries and correspondence.
It seems to me that Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall addresses some very profound issues that women of all ages have faced in marriages, especially that of patriarchy and abuse. I truly believe that while this novel has some very dark, almost Gothic, undertones; Bronte has, in my opinion, written a novel that puts forth a powerful moral message and empowers women to make those difficult decisions that are best for themselves and their children. Anne also has her heroine taking up her brushes, paints and canvas in order to make money to support herself and her son--a thoroughly shocking notion for a woman of gentility to embark upon. Toward that end, I think that this book is an excellent example of early-Victorian proto-feminist writing.
To me The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is as emotionally captivating a novel as Charlotte's Jane Eyre or Villette and it may just be even more artfully crafted than those as well. It intrigues me that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall seems to always be overshadowed by Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but then that seems to be how Anne was with her sisters--she was the quiet one. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is an important book, and one that I will read again and again....more
Charlotte Bronte's Shirley is one of the most beautiful, enriching, and satisfying novels that I've read this year. A novel borne from tragedy, CharloCharlotte Bronte's Shirley is one of the most beautiful, enriching, and satisfying novels that I've read this year. A novel borne from tragedy, Charlotte published Shirley in 1849; and while writing the novel, her brother Branwell died in 1848; followed shortly thereafter by the death of her sister Emily also in 1848; and then, horrifyingly, by her remaining sister, Anne, in 1849. In fact, it is believed that the characters of her two primary female protagonists in the novel, Caroline Helstone and Shirley Keeldar are modeled after her sisters Anne and Emily, respectively. Shirley was Charlotte Bronte's second published novel, following Jane Eyre which was published in 1847.
Shirley is not the 'bildungsroman' of a Jane Eyre; nor is it the description of the unrequited feelings of a Lucy Snowe in Charlotte's novel, Villette. Shirley, in my opinion, is a 'romance' (and more than one) within a detailed and descriptive portrayal of Yorkshire society and culture in 1811 and 1812 near the end of the Napoleonic wars and during the period of the Luddite riots in portions of the newly industrialized United Kingdom. This novel is gritty, earthy, hardy and hearty, and fully representative of the Yorkshire men and women of the moor country of northern England.
While Shirley is full of the romance and passion of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte serves up her heroines and heroes in a much more realistic and prosaic fashion. Perhaps not so witty, or lyrical, as Austen's, Charlotte's characters are so well described as to be very full of life and passion that I began to palpably experience their fears, anxieties, joys, desires, and sadness. One quickly becomes taken up with the lives and feelings of young Caroline Helstone, her uncle, the Reverend Helstone; Miss Shirley Keeldar, and her mysterious older friend, Mrs. Pryor; the mill-owner, Robert Moore, his sister Hortense, and his older brother, the tutor, Louis Moore. We also meet a collection of somewhat roguish curates, a pair of matronly 'saints,' and some wonderful examples of the hard-working Yorkshire working class folk. This is an equal-opportunity' novel when it comes to characters.
As a reader, one might be inclined to feel that the novel starts slowly, and maybe it does; yet, it is necessary. Charlotte Bronte starts setting the scene by carefully and descriptively introducing her characters: the men and women of her imaginary Yorkshire County of Stillborough (or, 'Still'bro'), the clergy, the mill-owners and businessmen, the workers and their families, and the landed gentry all begin to take their proper place as the novel unfolds. After a chapter or two, the novel's plot begins to build, like a storm at sea, with periodic 'rogue waves' containing great drama and pathos combined with the 'lulls' of Ms. Bronte's beautiful descriptions of her character's interactions and experiences with the Yorkshire pastoral, i.e., Caroline's and Shirley's flower gardens; the dells, oak forests, and runs; and the ruins of the abbey in Nunnwood (a great name for a forest with a ruined abbey!). I loved and was intrigued with the novel's contrasting of the darkness or bleakness of the perceived impacts associated with the mechanization of the mills on the Yorkshire business and working class, and the emotional strength, tranquility and serenity gained by the characters in their frequent forays into the countryside and interludes with Nature.
The story is told through the use of different literary devices and voices too. Sometimes Charlotte Bronte uses the omniscient third-person narrator; sometimes the first-person introspective or reflective voice is used; and she even uses the journal entries and written word of her characters to tell the story. Knowledge about events and things said, or seen, are sometimes withheld or not shared with the reader. This tends to give the novel a sense of mystery and imparts a very realistic feel, and reflects how information was actually shared and acted upon by men and women during this period. So, in some sense, while Shirley can be perhaps construed as a novel about the different levels of society in a culture, it is clearly also about differences between the sexes, and the men and women living and loving in that same society and culture.
In the main, however, the novel really swings back and forth from the perspective of two of fiction's finest female protagonists -- the shy and sensitive Caroline Helstone; and her close friend, the bold and fearless Shirley Keeldar. We watch, with satisfaction, as Caroline becomes more confident and assertive, and as Shirley becomes more settled and less impetuous. The reader is treated to the experience of the growth of their sophisticated relationship and friendship with one another; and we begin to realize the real effect and meaning of their relationship and its impact upon those within their sphere of influence. Conflicts and misunderstandings are made right, and intentions and true feelings are made clear and acted upon.
The novel is really about change -- changes in the individuals, changes in relationships, changes in how men and women perceive themselves, and changes in the way of life in a community. It is also about linkages -- linkages of people via relationship and friendship, linkages of couples in love and marriage, even the re-establishment of a relationship long thought lost, and the linkage of the working class with new ways of manufacturing and production.
In conclusion though, this novel -- Shirley -- is about love. It is about the power of love, a steadfast love, and an unrepenting love. This is a powerful proto-feminist statement too; unrelenting in its patronage of the value of women in society and in the basic human relationship between a woman and a man. These are women you can admire and respect -- and love.
I loved this novel and rank it very high in the pantheon of all of the great books I have read. All I can say is, "Bravo, Ms. Bronte, Bravo!"...more
I cry in anguish, "Oh Villette, Villette, Villette!"
It was a feeling that came upon me as I read this novel; the palpable feeling of—
The cold grey stoI cry in anguish, "Oh Villette, Villette, Villette!"
It was a feeling that came upon me as I read this novel; the palpable feeling of—
The cold grey storms of the fall and winter, the relentless building winds, the rain pounding against the window—those dark and dreary days of loneliness—all of the losses have brought you a smothering and almost overwhelming mantle of grief. You see, and write of, the Love around you, but feel the throbbing ache, day after day, night after night, of never receiving Love in return.
I lost count of the tears that fell as I read your account, Miss Lucy Snowe; or, should I call you, Miss Charlotte?
This novel, this Villette, like an arrow fletched fair, flew true, oh so true, and pierced your beating heart; and from that mortal wound poured the secrets of your soul, your inner-most being; laid bare for all to see. The incalculable loss of your older sisters, then Branwell, your dearest Emily, and finally quiet little Anne. This towering testament to loneliness, to sorrow, swept me, your Reader, relentlessly through the unimagined torrent of your human emotions—your grief, your fears, your reserved passion, your quiet grace, steadfast loyalty, and your resolute strength and faith.
I felt guilty as I read, Little Woman, looking over my shoulder at every pause; afraid that you should find me picking the lock of your secret diary; spellbound as I turned the pages, one after the other, reading your most intimate, personal, and painful thoughts and the passionate feelings that poured forth onto the page. Intensely captivated by the dialog between your Passion and your Reason, the conversations between your Imagination and your Matter; but I read on. Until it became too much; I averted my eyes, and I wept.
As I sit here, writing these words, I am absolutely overwhelmed. I don’t know that I have ever read a book that has moved me quite like Charlotte Bronte’s final novel, Villette. A timeless and moving experience from its first words, to its final “Farewell.” I am without words, Little Woman. I know this though, Miss Lucy Snowe, Miss Charlotte Bronte, I shall Love you always.
In tribute to the commitment you made to all who have read, or will read, this personal ‘Testament’ of yours over the ages, may your own words prove prophetic—
“Proof of a life to come must be given. In fire and in blood do we trace the record throughout nature. In fire and in blood does it cross our own experience. Sufferer, faint not through terror of this burning evidence. Tired wayfarer, gird up thy loins, look upward, march onward. Pilgrims and brother mourners, join in friendly company. Dark through the wilderness of this world stretches the way for most of us; equal and steady be our tread; be our cross our banner. For staff we have His promise, whose ‘word is tried, whose way is perfect:’ for present hope His providence, ‘who gives the shield of salvation, whose gentleness makes great;’ for final home His bosom, who ‘dwells in the height of Heaven;’ for crowning prize a glory, exceeding and eternal.”
This was a compelling and absorbing novel from the get-go! One that I simply could not put down. I felt like I just wanted to bundle little Jane up anThis was a compelling and absorbing novel from the get-go! One that I simply could not put down. I felt like I just wanted to bundle little Jane up and take good care of her throughout her time at Lowood School (God, what a hellish institution!). This book makes you laugh, and it makes you cry; but it always makes you think. I really enjoyed Charlotte Bronte's expression of, in my opinion, modern feminism throughout the telling of this tale. I am stunned that I have waited this long to read this most beautiful novel; and highly recommend this book. I believe that Jane Eyre, Villette, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall are my three favorite Bronte sisters novels. Also, I went out and rented two versions of Jane Eyre film adaptations through Netflix, including the recent BBC production. The earlier William Hurt/Charlotte Gainsborough version was priceless too....more