Monday, November 15, 2010

Brief Book Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I have had a request for more book reviews, so here's a quickie one for another late evening.

My book club just finished reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë. Here are a few of my thoughts. (I apologize in advance that these thoughts do not form a coherent review.)

*I was surprised that the titular tenant is, in fact, a woman. Having heard the title of this book for some years without knowing anything of what it was about, I had always envisioned said tenant as being male for some reason. Male and brooding and probably much too old for the heroine. Not sure why.

*Oh, wait, yes I am sure why. See: the author's last name.

*I was also surprised how much I enjoyed this book given the amount of time I spent being annoyed with the two main characters.

*Seriously, not since Edmund of Mansfield Park have I wanted to slap a character upside the head so badly. This is including Katniss Everdeen, folks. (And they're supposed to be the good guys!)

*I do not include Bella Swan on that list because that goes WAYYY beyond needing a slap upside the head.

*But no, if I had been reading Tenant in paperback form instead of on my Kindle, the antics of Gilbert and Helen would have merited a session of throwing the book against the wall in disgust. (Literary characters take note: putting your fingers in your ears and saying "Lalalalalala I can't HEAR you!" is NOT an effective coping mechanism.)

*Don't worry. The bad guys need a slap upside the head, too. But you expect that in a novel.

*Brontë sisters take note: NOT EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS WEIRD AND BEYOND DEPRESSING. You need to get away from those moors, yo. And I'm not talking about Othello. Or a place to tie boats.

*I'm pretty sure Anne didn't quite know how to end the book because her characters kept being stupid and not cooperating to come to some sort of resolution for the story. (See: slap upside the head.) So she had to end the story by sheer force of will, and it kind of shows. We're not quite into deus ex machina territory here, but I bet if you'd made Anne spend one more week writing this book it would have come to that.

*Literary characters take another note: Hitting someone over the head, knocking them off their horse and leaving him on the side of the road in the rain when they (understandably) refuse your offer of assistance (remember, you're the reason they need assistance in the first place) is also NOT an effective coping mechanism. Hanging out with people who do this is also a bad plan. (Victorian heroines, are you listening?)

*Brontë sisters take note again: Seriously, have you NEVER met a normal happy couple? Wow.

*Book club members take note: This was a lot of fun. Have I mentioned how much I like you folks?

To sum up: I liked this book but it was not my favorite Brontë book ever (Jane Eyre), nor do I think it is the best-written of the Brontë books (I have to admit that award goes to Wuthering Heights, as weird and depressing as it is). But definitely worth picking up; once you start reading it you want to keep reading it until the end.

I know you're probably sick of me mentioning what day we've reached in my NaBloPoMo blogging streak. But being able to give myself a virtual high-five everyday like this is what has gotten me to day 15 (halfway there!); it's kind of like the little pick-me-up you get when you cross an item off your to-do list.

1 comment:

Meg said...

I can say without any equivocation that the character I wanted to (and still want to) slap the most was (is) Catherine from Northanger Abbey. And I am not ashamed of it.

Fun review! It was a good book, wasn't it?