Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Resurrected Reviews: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The log of books I've read that I have saved on my computer has reviews in it of books I read over two years ago back before I started blogging, which are really fascinating to me to reread and recapture how I felt on reading the book. I thought I'd post some of them, since some of these are interesting books that I definitely think should be more widely read. I'm not going to post them unedited, but for the most part it'll be exactly as I thought back then.

The first one I'll post is for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë, which I read in April of 2007.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is written from the point of view of Gilbert Markham, which I wasn't expecting. It's also written as a narrative to his friend whose name I can't remember who (I think) is his brother-in-law. He's a very likable fellow, although he can sometimes be annoyingly a man, if know what I mean. Occasionally a bit thick-headed. It tells the story of the coming of a reclusive sort of woman called Mrs. Graham and her son Arthur to a neighbourhood and Gilbert's rather foreseeable falling in love with her. There's a lot more of the story than that, of course. It's constantly enjoyable to read. It's not the kind of book that is read really fast because you want to know what happens, but it's the kind of book that you read steadily because you want to know what happens but you also want to take your time and understand everything and savour it. I love the first line:

"You must go back with me to the autumn of 1827."

Some books have great opening lines, the kind everyone knows even if they haven't read the book. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," and so on. I know this isn't one of them, but it should be.

I am struck as I was with Jane Eyre by the very impropriety of the storyline. It's not quite what you expect of a 19th century novel, and somehow this makes the characters slightly more human, because it transcends your sort of stereotyping expectations. This book doesn't match Jane Eyre in story, but I think it does in writing style, and it is perfectly lovely writing. Very interesting characters, also. I watched the miniseries a while ago and decided I would most certainly have to read it, and I'm glad I did.

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