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9.28.2014

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

I just finished listening to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on this wonderfully-producted online audioboook.

As a generality I'd say that the Bronte sisters are a little darker than Jane Austen.  Jane Austen seems to write these glistening Cinderella stories, and they're a bit more interested in gritty reality.  (Not quote so much as Thomas Hardy, however, thank goodness!)  Not that 'Wildfell Hall' was totally dark, as it did have a happy ending (spoiler alert!).  

So yeah, without giving too much away, this book highlights the fact that divorce for irreconcilable differences was in no way part of the English reality of the 1820s.

Um, and how exactly are all of these characters able to sustain a lifestyle of doing absolutely nothing but worrying about themselves and their marital situations?  ....well the main character farmed, but the others....what else did they do exactly?  Where are the funds coming from to pay for servants and enormous estates?  I don't understand the British class system.



It's almost comical to listen to the passages relating an unmarried couple kissing, to the great scandal of whoever happens upon them.  And any illegimitae sex seemed to be enough scandal to tear an entire community apart.

As for a theme?  One might be having to do with this idea that you can't judge a person by appearances, and as well as to the power of malicious gossip to destroy a persons ability to live within a community.

The main character; this Helen Graham/Huntington/Millwood woman (woah, now there's some identity crisis that she may well have gone through!) didn't seem consistant, making a poor marriage choice, then being totally upright about how she went about dealing with/resolving the situation.  There just didn't seem to be sufficient explanation or motivation for how such a reasonable woman could be so rash and foolish.

The writing is awesome, so formal, and the characters are so articulate in their dialogue and thought processes.  There was such a propriety to the way people behaved, such an implicit set of morals by which people needed to live their lives, that well, I don't think that you see so much these days.

Well these are just some of my reflections upon finishing the audiobook.  It's worth the listen/read!

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