For April’s classic read, it is Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! Anne is the youngest of the Brontë siblings, and died at only 29 years old. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the 2nd and last of her novels published, and her style is different from sisters’, which clearly agrees with me. I didn’t particularly like Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre’s romance and hero didn’t really appeal to me. According to her Goodreads profile (lol):
Anne’s two novels, written in a sharp and ironic style, are completely different from the romanticism followed by her sisters, Emily Brontë and Charlotte Brontë.
I think this might be my favourite novel out of all 3 Brontë sisters’ works! This was an engaging read, and while I breezed through the first part – the arrival of the new tenant of Wildfell Hall, Markham’s growing interest and attraction to her – when it got to the diary, wherein she recounts the years she spent with her husband, it slowed down my pace a bit.
The summary gives it away, that Helen, the titular character, was in a bad marriage, and you would think this would make it easier to read but no. Maybe because it was kind of spoiled by the summary and knowing it was coming that made me slow down. Reading how Helen had slowly and rudely woken up to real life, after basking in the glow of her short-lived honeymoon phase was hard. And it’s even worse because throughout this, she couldn’t confide in anyone. Not to her aunt, who she knew wouldn’t say “I told you so” even if she did tried to warn her of this. Not to her close friend Millicent, who has her own version of Huntingdon. Although I do have to say, when she finally rid herself of him and stopped trying to pull him up when it was obvious no amount of effort on her part would do anything to change his ways, it was satisfying.
My first introduction to the Brontë siblings’ works (and literature from this era) was by way of Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, and it was not a good one. So I’m really glad that I found something from them that I like (Jane Eyre was ok, but I’m team St. John… the only one I think. The romance wasn’t my thing, I guess).
Part of what makes this such an enjoyable read is the cast of characters, especially in the first part where Helen first moves into Wildfell Hall. Fergus is a favourite, despite Gilbert saying that he tries but he isn’t particularly witty.
What? Clearly, Gilbert and I have differing opinions. I mean look at this gem said by Fergus when his mother and sister expressed their desire to find out how Helen is doing at Wildfell Hall when she first arrives:
“And we should call sometime mamma; it’s only proper you know.”“Of course my dear. Poor thing! How lonely she must feel!”“And pray be quick about it; and mind you bring me word how much sugar she puts in her tea, and what sort of caps and aprons, and all about it; for I don’t how I can live till I know.” said Fergus very gravely.
Such wit! Such humor!