Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Note: The image links to an inexpensive paperback copy of this book.  You can get a free ebook from

For another book review, I am reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Brontë. This is the second time I have read the book; the first time was for a Women's Literature class my senior year of college.

Having just recently read Charlotte Brontë's Shirley, I am struck by the difference in their writing styles, even more so than I was in college. Charlotte Bronte has a writing style that is much more "preacherly" than her younger sister's; whereas Charlotte takes a long time to get to the point, and often slips into a lecture in her own voice before returning to her character's narrative, Anne is straightforward and honest. Rather than taking "time out" from the story to express her views, Anne instead weaves them into her character's conversations, crafting dialogue that makes her point for her. She also addresses many issues more directly than Charlotte does: For instance, her main character, Helen Graham (the narrator, Gilbert, is primarily a vessel through which Helen's story is told), takes a strong stance against alcohol, and vehemently argues her reasons for teaching her son to dislike it.

In general, I also find that Anne's writing is more easily readable than Charlotte's is. Perhaps because it moves more quickly, or perhaps because of a subtle difference in the language, I find The Tenant of Wildfell Hall much more readable than Shirley, perhaps even than Jane Eyre.

Due to the easier readability of her writing, and the respect I have for the way she uses her fiction to argue a political view, I have to say that I like Anne Brontë's work better than that of her better-known sister, Charlotte.

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