Book Blurbs is a monthly peek into our book club meetings, where we share our random thoughts or opinions on the book we selected for the month. Some months most of us have read the book, others no one made it all the way through. But either way, we’ll give you a quick review, some first impressions, a reason we couldn’t finish, or any general bookish thoughts about our current read.
For February, Book Club Sunday read Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. This book is told in three parts, with each part told from a different character’s perspective. Part I is told through a series of letters from Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, to his brother-in-law telling him about his experiences with Helen Graham, a mysterious widow who moves into Wildfell Hall. Part II frames its narrative through Helen Graham’s diary entries as she recounts the events that led to her arrival at Wildfell Hall. Part III picks up again from Gilbert’s perspective, after he has uncovered the secrets hidden in Helen’s diary.
Read on to see what Book Club Sunday members thought of The Tenant of WIldfell Hall.
** spoiler alert ** “But it is time to bring my narrative to a close – anyone but you would say I had made it too long already.” Truer words were never spoken. It felt like it took an eternity to finish this book. I’m certain it was scandalous when it was published, but reading it in 2017 is a different experience entirely. I kept hoping that Helen would snap and murder her husband, but nope. No such luck.
~ Hannah, read the whole book
I started The Tenant of Wildfell Hall the day before book club. And I really didn’t hate it. In fact, I laughed out loud at Fergus’s antics in the first chapter. He was the only reason I wanted to continue reading, so I was glad when I heard that he wasn’t in it much after that, I wasn’t missing out!
~ Molly, read the first chapter
I finished and liked The Tenant of Wildfell Hall but as a fellow book-clubber said, this book could’ve been 200 pages shorter. During the first part of the book I was anxiously waiting to hear what the big controversy would be… and I kept waiting. And waiting. And when I found out what it was I didn’t quite believe it – was that it? I understand it was a LOT of drama back in the day… but I was hoping for a little more crazy. Overall, a good read – just don’t let your imagination run wild or you may be a little bored.
~Danielle, read the whole book
My attempt to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was thwarted by the library! I was number one on the waitlist the whole month but my copy never arrived. Based on what everyone said at the meeting, I don’t really feel compelled to read it now that the month has passed. It did sound promising, though.
~Sarah, who never got the book from the library
I think Danielle articulated the problem that I had with this book. I really enjoyed it at first, but I wanted the story to be something different than it was. I ended up not finishing it.
~ Andrea, read part of the book
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is considered by many to be the first feminist novel. As I told Book Club at our meeting, I have read all the novels, and can personally attest to the accuracy of this statement. Normally I enjoy a good gothic novel, but this one didn’t hold my attention. I read Part I, and there were parts of it I enjoyed – particularly when Gilbert punches his little brother, Fergus, for annoying him. Or, in Fergus’s words, “he nearly fractured my skull for singing a pretty, inoffensive love song, on purpose to amuse him.” I found myself much more interested in characters other than the titular Tenant, and didn’t much care to find out about her mysterious past. I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading after our meeting.
~ Emily, read Part I
Wishing every day were Book Club Sunday!