Kate 's Reviews > The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
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's review
Jan 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 19th-century-classics, the-stacks, favorite-authors, nest, nest-shelf-one

Though the middle-third of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was quite a slog, I thoroughly enjoyed the recounting of the love affair of Gilbert Markham and his mysterious neighbor at Wildfell Hall. A line of poetry from Anne Bronte: 'Believe not those who say/the upward path is smooth/Lest though should stumble on thy way/and faint before the truth' has been a mantra of mine for many years (I even, at one point, arried it written on a notecard in my wallet), I had yet to sit down and actually read something of hers.

Anne was the only Bronte sister to take employment out of the house, as a governess. Her lecturing, educational tone in this novel belies that history: she sure gives the reader a schooling. Here's what she's preaching:

1. The institutionalization of traditional gender roles is, at best, a crappy way of running things if you care about the well-being of children or financial or social stability. Or the sanctity of marriage, for that matter. At worst, insistance on the traditional roles of men and women is disastrous for the physical and mental well-being of women. Period.

2. Traditional religious practice is a catch-22: it both enshrines the traditional marriage, but provides some women, like Helen Huntingdon, the only protection that they have from a traditional marriage gone bad.

3. Love does not equal happiness and money does not equal security.

4. Don't get married at 18: no matter how good a perosn you are, no matter how much honesty, integrity and faith you might have, there is always someone out there ready to take advantage of you because you are too young to know better.

5. Listen to your mother at least half of the time.

Highly recommended for Victorian enthusiasts.
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Reading Progress

January 25, 2010 – Shelved
March 27, 2011 – Started Reading
March 28, 2011 –
page 27
March 30, 2011 –
page 43
9.75% "Finding it interesting how the same debates about child rearing that people have today were being had over 150 years ago. . ."
March 31, 2011 –
page 54
12.24% "Am v. impressed by how modern this book is . . . was not expecting it."
April 2, 2011 –
page 117
26.53% "Big reveal coming up . . . \n I wish that I had read this at 18; it would have saved me a lot of trouble."
April 4, 2011 –
page 153
34.69% "The big reveal has yet to be revealed. I find it funny that Helen hands Gilbert three manuscript pages to read, and here I've been reading them for thirty pages. I am not enjoying Helen's voice nearly as much as Gilbert's."
April 5, 2011 –
page 163
36.96% "I can't wait for Gilbert Markham to start telling the story again. Snooze. . ."
April 6, 2011 –
page 193
43.76% "Still snooze. I prefer Anne's realism to her sister's melodrama, but not the moralizing. This feels like a lecture."
April 7, 2011 –
page 233
52.83% "Less snooze. I want more Walter Hargrave! I am also intrigued by the relationship between Helen and her father and brother: this is the first time I've come across this untraditional family in a Vic novel."
April 8, 2011 –
page 298
67.57% "Oh, I cried hard last night, and then said a prayer of gratitude that I live in a time and place where my right to own property is recognized. I am enjoying this novel again, and again am surprised at how modern it seems."
April 9, 2011 – Finished Reading

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