Returning to an Old Friend

June 8, 2012 | Erin

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) by Anne BrontëSome books you can read over and over. These books are like visiting an old friend. Sometimes you discover scenes you had forgotten about or pick up things you missed during the first reading.

For me one of these books is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Written in 1848, this novel is considered to be one of the first feminist novels. Anne Brontë published under the pseudonym Acton Bell, since it was not considered proper for women, especially a vicar's daughter, to write fiction. Anne's style of writing differs from her sisters, Charlotte and Emily, whose novels are more romantic. Anne's writing is realistic and deals with issues that she saw in the world around her. This would be her second and last novel. Anne died a year later at the age of 29.

Dealing with many taboo topics of the time period, this novel raises the question of whether a wife should be able to leave an abusive husband and raise her son on her own. Fleeing her husband, Helen Graham moves into Wildfell Hall posing as a widow under an assumed name. Quickly she becomes the subject of local gossip and scandal. Helen, however, finds one confidant and friend in Gilbert Markham who begins to uncover her dark past.

Do you have any books that you have read multiple times and still find yourself returning to?

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