The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall (Book And Movie Review)

When referring to the Bronte’s, many will often refer only to Charlotte and Emily, leaving the youngest Bronte, Anne out of the picture.

Anne may not be as popular as her elder sisters. But her novels speak the truth about life, in her time and our time, without relying one the more dramatic story telling that exists in Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights.

Published in 1848, The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall  is the story of two different characters whose lives will eventually intertwine.

Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer in rural England and a sought after potential husband by several of the unattached young women in area. A mysterious widow, Mrs. Graham, has recently rented Wildfell Hall.  She is unknown to the people in the town, who turn to gossip when she is not so eager to share her past. In reality, she is not a widow, but a young wife, escaping from an abusive marriage with her young son and faithful servant.

In 1996, the book was adapted into a TV movie with Toby Stephens as Gilbert, Tara Fitzgerald as Mrs. Graham and Rupert Graves as the unknown, but abusive husband.

What I enjoy about the book and the movie is that the story is timeless. How many of us has fallen for prince or princess charming and soon after discovered their not so charming qualities?  In the 1840’s, marriage was till death do us part. Divorce was rare and if it did happen, it created a scandal.  Thankfully, we have laws in place today that protect those trying to get out of abusive relationships.  At the same time, it is still extremely common to hear about people who have been injured or died at the hands of their romantic partners.

I recommend this book and movie not just because both are extremely good, but as a reminder of both how far we have come and how far we need to go.

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