It’s a Classic!!
Anne Bronte is one of my favorite authors. Though she only wrote two novels and a few poems, there was something about her writing that drew me in and made me love her. Anne wrote beautifully and, unlike her two sisters, I saw a strong foundation for Christianity in her books. In The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, we see an example of the kind of faith Anne herself possessed.
We are introduced to Helen Huntingdon in the beginning of the book. Written in the first person, the story is being told by Gilbert Markham, who is Helen’s neighbor when she comes to rent Wildfell Hall. Helen is going by the name of Mrs. Graham at this time and she is believed to be a widow with a young son.
However, when it is revealed that she is receiving visits from Frederick Lawrence in secret, scandal soon spreads to destroy Helen’s reputation and Gilbert is struck with jealousy, as he’s fallen in love with the beautiful widow. When Gilbert’s jealousy leads him to attack Mr. Lawrence, Helen knows that she cannot keep her secrets from him any longer. So she gives him her diary, in which tells the story of her past.
The diary is filled with secrets that Gilbert had never imagined before. It tells the story of how this beautiful young woman, Helen, fell for the seductions of one, Mr. Arthur Huntingdon. How they were married and, how after their marriage, he started drinking, became abusive and commited adultery. Helen was desperate to get her son away from him so that he wouldn’t fall into his father’s habits. So she ran away, changed her name, and hoped to stay hidden from her husband.
But her husband is a clever man. When he is on the verge of death he discovers where Helen has been hiding with their son and he sends someone to bring her back. Helen goes, believing that God will be with her and in the hopes of ministering to her husband and saving him before he dies.
This book was everything that a classic usually is, and then some. Anne wrote a powerful novel when she put pen to paper and decided to write The Tenant. Back in her time, it was improper for a woman to write about such things as this. And, after her death, her sister Charlotte worked hard to stop the reprinting of the novel. She didn’t want her sister’s name on it.
But this book is a strong example of what drunkenness and abuse can do. Helen was in prison for as long as she was married to Arthur Huntingdon. Her son was in prison as well. All Helen wanted was to be free, but even when she had the choice of staying behind and letting her husband die without her, she chose to go back to him. To take care of him, as a wife is supposed to do. She depended on God’s love and mercy to sustain her. And He did.
Not only that but in the book there is an excellent scene where Helen ministers to her dying husband and tells him of God’s love and mercy. It is a beautiful scene that bring tears to my eyes. After all that man did to her, she didn’t have to go back and try to save his soul by telling him about the Lord. She could have just let him die without knowing. But she tried anyway.
Out of the two novels Anne Bronte wrote, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is my absolute favorite! If you’ve not read this book then I suggest you buy it right away and start reading! This is one that you don’t want to ignore.
Coming Soon: She has learned how to numb herself to feelings…but can one man who cares show her what it means to truly love? Look for my review of Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers, tomorrow!!