Monday, June 29, 2020

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë (novel #152)

"No man can deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for him,…it cost more to redeem their souls – it cost the blood of an incarnate God, perfect and sinless in Himself, to redeem us from the bondage of the evil one: – let Him plead for you." ~ Helen

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a Victorian era novel written by the youngest of the Brontë sisters. It is the story of Helen Graham – the tenant. She is widowed, young, beautiful, talented, and exceedingly private – nearly to the point of being rude. She draws the attention of local gossips, and at least one eligible bachelor, Gilbert Markham. It is evident the two would make a fine match, and their esteem seems to be mutual, but Helen holds herself steadfastly and mysteriously aloof.

Rumors fly, but they are only vaguely near the truth. Helen indeed has a secret precluding any attachment and seemingly any peace or happiness. 

She is a worthy Victorian heroine, virtuous and brave, and the reader aches for her happiness – but it seems hopeless.

Near hopeless to Helen, but after a moment of despair…
Then, while I lifted up my soul in speechless, earnest supplication, some heavenly influence seemed to strengthen me within: I breathed more freely; my vision cleared; I saw distinctly the pure moon shining on, and the light clouds skimming the clear dark sky; and then I saw the eternal stars twinkling down upon me; I knew their God was mine, and He was strong to save and swift to hear. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” seemed whispered from above their myriad orbs. No, no; I felt He would not leave me comfortless: in spite of earth and hell I should have strength for all my trials, and win a glorious rest at last!

I’ve now read all three Brontë sisters: Jane Eyre by Charlotte (loved it); Wuthering Heights by Emily (not so much); and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall which is my favorite of the three. Anne’s lack of acclaim compared to Charlotte and Emily, begs the question: why so? The answer I think, has more to do with publication history than the talent of the author. Today she is afforded greater merit by academics, but still she is not so well known as her sisters. Too bad. I will definitely read more by Anne Brontë

My rating: 4 1/2 of 5 stars

Have you read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, or Anne Brontë? What did you think? Who is your favorite of the Brontë sisters?

This novel satisfies square N1 in the 2020 Classic Bingo Challenge, and Classic with a Place in the Title category in the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020.

Other excerpts:

To my thinking, a woman’s religion ought not to lessen her devotion to her earthly lord. ~ Helen

“There is another life both for you and for me,” said I. “If it be the will of God that we should sow in tears no, it is only that we may reap in joy hereafter.” ~ Helen



  1. I read and reviewed this one too, very recently. Like you, it left me pondering why Anne has such poor reputation compared to her sisters. I do agree it's undeserved.

    1. They could all write for sure, but I appreciate Anne's honesty more than the romanticism of Charlotte and Emily. Thanks for the feedback Paula.

  2. Jane Eyre is one of my all-time favorite books, but Tenant is second when considering the Bronte books I've read. Wuthering heights is by far my least favorite - I still have 2 books (3 if you include Emma) by Charlotte left to read.

    1. I'm with you...I don't care for WH. I'm really close on Jane Eyre and Tenant...loved em both. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. I recently re-read it and I agree with you, Anne is surprisingly understimated, she's a wonderful writer !


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