Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

About the book

A young woman, Helen Graham, moves into three rooms in a large country mansion with her young son and soon becomes the subject of village gossip. Gilbert Markham, a young man in the village, discovers her dark and secret past.  

What I think

The reason I read this book was because it was chosen by my book club and I suppose that's the whole point of book clubs: that you read books you wouldn't otherwise necessarily have chosen for yourself. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a huge classics fan. I usually find the books too long-winded and feel that frankly they're in need of a good edit! I did an inward groan when we settled on this book, but actually I really enjoyed it. 

I was surprised to find that this novel has a male narrator at the beginning. I think I was half-way through the first chapter before I noticed it. I was so convinced it would be told from a female point of view because it was written by a woman in 1848 (although under a pseudonym: Acton Bell). 

I actually found this book rather gripping and unpredictable. Up until the last chapter it's not clear whether there will be a happy ending or not. I won't spoil it - just in case you decide to give it a go! 

Toby Stephens and Tara Fitzgerald in the 1996 BBC adaptation

About the author

Anne Brontë (d. 1848) was the youngest of the three literary Brontë sisters. She wrote two novels before she died at the young age of 29: Agnes Grey (based on her experiences of being a governess), published in 1847 and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in 1848. Charlotte, the eldest Brontë sister wrote four novels, including Jane Eyre, and Emily wrote Wuthering Heights


  1. It is a great skill when a writer, in this case female, can write believably from a man's point of view. I always fear my man's point of view writing, especially the dialogues may be too genteel.

    Have not read this title.


  2. Another one for my list. So many books, so little time...

  3. Been there, read it, married the tenant. Been to Haworth 20 times. Had 2 of the best English breakfasts EVER! if you haven´t been there, just GO!

  4. Just finished this book myself and I loved Gilbert's narration, very engaging and moves the narrative along with ease. I think it really speaks to the talent of Anne as an author, especially when you consider the writing styles of her sisters.

    1. Hi Jennifer,
      Thanks for reading and leaving a comment. Yes, this book is very different from the other Bronte sisters' books and therefore an accomplishment.


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