Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

A couple of years ago I saw this novel depicted as a mini-series made for the BBC. I had never heard of Anne Bronte's little known story, but as I've enjoyed her sisters' works over the years, and I had enjoyed the mini-series, I desired to read the novel as well.

The implied tenant of Wildfell Hall is a mysterious young woman newly moved into the old manor with her young son and faithful maid servant. Despite her best efforts the young woman, Helen Graham, is unable to avoid the curiosity of her neighbors and forced into their acquaintance. Among the throng vying for her attentions is Gilbert Markham, with whom she finally forms a close and affectionate friendship that appears to be developing into a romance, but a romance that Helen mysteriously rebuffs at every turn. When the village gossips eventually make Helen's existence at Wildfell Hall so completely unbearable, she desperately turns to Gilbert and entrusts him with her diary in which she confesses her deepest kept secrets of her former life. Without giving away the contents of this wonderfully written work, that alone is the synopsis I will leave you. To know and understand more, you must read for yourself.

Of all the Bronte sisters' works, this is by far my favorite. Anne's work is very similar in its dark themes, melancholy, and apparent unrequited love to Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, but has not had the same fortunate popularity. Alongside the literary study of Charlotte and Emily Bronte's most brilliant works, I would highly recommend adding Anne's lesser known novel. Due to mature thematic elements, this book is appropriate for upper high school students to adults.
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