The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronté

About the book

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a powerful and sometimes violent novel of expectation, love, oppression, sin, religion and betrayal. It portrays the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Huntingdon, the mysterious ‘tenant’ of the title, and her dissolute, alcoholic husband. Defying convention, Helen leaves her husband to protect their young son from his father’s influence, and earns her own living as an artist. Whilst in hiding at Wildfell Hall, she encounters Gilbert Markham, who falls in love with her.

Reviewed by Southsea Literature Group:

Generally agreed that ‘feet of clay’ was an apt description of the book and some editing would have helped it. However, book led to much discussion of society at the time, women’s role in it and the Bronte family background. Book actually raises many issues that even modern writers fail to explore. Not our favourite book, but certainly stimulating.

Star rating: ***

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8 thoughts on “The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronté”

  1. Review by CC Readers Reading Group:
    We all enjoyed it very much. We admired the style and vocabulary, descriptions of people and places and Anne’s psychological insight. It was an example of an early call for women’s emancipation in that a woman should be able to escape from an unhappy marriage. The book obviously reflects the fact that people had more time to read in Victorian times – it was very wordy – but we loved the words! That it was written by someone so young was also a revelation – despite her narrow and restricted world (by today’s lights) Anne was full of understanding of human nature and the dilemmas we face.
    Star rating: ****


  2. Review by Museum Book Group:
    We had all previously read this novel (when much younger). We felt Anne Bronte was a very modern author for her time. Women had few prospects other than marriage/teaching/or being a female dependant if single! Mrs Helen Graham in this book is prepared to remove herself and her child from an unfortunate marriage and support herself. Letters between characters used well.
    Star rating: ****


  3. Review by Hartley Readers Reading Group:
    We all enjoyed the book very much. Amazing imagination of author considering background. Interesting view of the role of women vis a vis now.
    Star rating: ***+


  4. Review by Southampton U3A Reading Group:
    Most members thought the book overlong and melodramatic for modern tastes, but admired the vocabulary. The author used many words we had to look up in a dictionary to find they are no longer part of normal usage.
    Star rating: ***


  5. Review by Bridewell Beauties Reading Group:
    Anne Bronté was ahead of her time in subject matter eg alcoholism, probably based on her brother. Erratic description of characters from her life, however the Christian ethic comes through very strongly in the way she forgives her husband.
    Star rating: ***


  6. Review by Women Who Read reading group
    It was a surprisingly modern book for its time and the detail, historically and socially, was brilliant. The characters were well fleshed out and very real. To our surprise we scored it very highly.
    Star rating: ****


  7. Review by Andover Library Reading Group
    To our surprise we all loved it bar two. Strong female main character was a delight for the time. Again, we talked alot about women’s rights and life in the period.
    **** 4 stars


  8. Review by Alverstoke Ladies
    A good discussion on this book. Thought provoking, well written and before its time.
    Star rating ****


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