Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall Review

I am finally sitting down and doing these reviews!! First I will review the movie and then the book.

The movie version of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall I watched was this one. It was the made for tv (three one hour sections) from 1996.
Helen was played by Tara Fitzgerald, Gilbert by Toby Stephens, and Mr. Lawrence by James Purefoy. (Who I recognized-he was in Mansfield Park, A Knights Tale and Vanity Fair, all three movies I would recommend, in fact one of them is on my all time favorite list!) The actors were pleasant to look at, and the customes were pretty nice, but the hairstyle of Helen when she was older (the "present" part of the movie) was simply dreadful! I mean it looked horrid! I felt bad for her!

I was not impressed with the movie. I have decided that next time I want to watch a movie and read the book...I should watch the movie first. That way I won't be so disappointed with the movie. The book is always better...sometimes the movies come close and does a good job at interpreting the book, and other times they get off track. I just felt like, although they did get the basic story across, and you like the characters, they brought in things that were not really important-or part the book-and left out some characters I loved and other important parts of the story. I know that you can't fit everything into a movie, but it was hard to watch this one, so soon after finishing the book (the next day) and see so much of it missing! Plus one of the biggest parts of the book is Helen's faith, and this was not brought up at all, and things were done that she would never have let happen, but I guess they are just trying to make it appeal to a modern audience.

O.K. So I got the movie review done yesterday evening when I got home from work, but then I got distracted with dinner and watching some t.v. with Kev and I didn't get around to the book here we go:

A review on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte(Before I start this review I must make a note that I absolutely love the Bronte sisters, so my reviews may be a bit partial. I don't know why I love them so much, I actually have never read any of Emily's work, but I still have an unexplained love for their work. I think it might have to do with how close they seemed to have been, I have three sisters and we are VERY close and I like to imagine them being the same way. I also felt for them deeply, as I still do, because of the sufferings the went through. Life was hard on the Bronte family, and for some reason we are drawn to stories of tragedy, so I fell in love with the Bronte family from a young age and now that I am part of this Bronte reading challenge I would like to read more about them. I guess I may need to actually join a library so I can get access to some more books and biographies without spending a fortune!)

In the Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I feel you are truly transported to the time through the author's emotions/thoughts/feelings that are presented through what the character's are going through. You get a sense of what it was like trying to live a "proper" life of that time and what restrictions were brought upon both men and women based on where you were in society. Helen, the heroine of the book, is strongly guided by her faith. Although, she tries to do what is right, she falls in love with a man that I am sure deep down she knows she shouldn't have. He is seen by society as a good enough match for her, he has a good name and he has money, but his character is not inline with what Helen holds so dear to her heart, her faith. But, at the time, he is the only match that she has feelings for...her aunt is trying hard to pawn her off on some old guy, and she knows she doesn't want that! She wants love, not just a match. As much as Helen knows he is the wrong choice, she is in love and believes he will change, he just needs to grow up a bit, and spend time with better influences, and time away from the bad influences. Turns out, that assumption isn't accurate. Her husband is a Gentleman by birth, but none of his actions show that any of the characteristics of a gentleman are in him. He is a truly selfish being, and although I think he did love her, or as best as he knew how to love, it wasn't a true love. True love would sacrifice yourself, for the good of the one that you love, which you see Helen doing for him, but he doesn't give her anything in return.

This book addresses some tough issues. One of them being alcoholism. (I am guessing this came from Anne's relationship with her brother Branwell who suffered from both alcohol and drug addictions in the later part of his short life.) I liked how Anne was able to get a message across about subjects that, I am sure, were not something discussed in proper society. Subjects like; gossiping, addictions, adultery, restrictions (on women in particular) due to the rules of the times, restrictions due to class, and faith.

Well, I don't really want to tell the whole story, because I want you to read it yourself. It is worth the read for sure!! There are parts that seem a bit long, but I like them, because I think it helps set the place of the book and the feelings of the characters. You truly fall in love with Helen and Gilbert, who is the narrator of the book. (Speaking of Gilbert, I so want to read Anne of Green Gables now, whenever I hear Gilbert-I think of Gilbert Blythe. I have loved the movies since I was a girl, but I have never actually read the books, I guess I need to borrow those from mom or Betsy and get them read!)

I guess the basic overview of the book would be that this is a complicated love story between a woman and her husband, her child, her God, and her chance at true happiness. Helen's desire for doing what is right, both by the standards of the time and her beliefs, shape the story. Although she finds a chance at happiness, she isn't willing to dive into it at any cost, no matter how much she wants it. Could finding love truly bring happiness if she had to compromise her beliefs? I am amazed at Helen's strength, and although I got frustrated at times with what went unsaid due to being proper, I was then able to sympathize with the characters with what life truly was like for them.

**Spoiler alert-stop reading if you don't want to know anything about the ending**

The end does eventually bring about a happy ending, it was just a long wait for it! But I don't think it could have been a happy ending for Helen if she hadn't stayed true to herself and her beliefs.

**Add on**

Here is a review I just read. Thought I would add a link on here for y'all to see it if you want.


Angie said...

Oh, you MUST read Anne of Green Gables. That is one of my favorite books, EVER. The whole series is good, but, of course, the first one is the best.

Carrie said...

I actually really love the later Anne books....all the way to the end it is a very satisfying series. Unlike many that seem to not be as fun after they "get together" this one is even better after that!
Thanks for the review, I really want to read this one too!

Andy's Bethy said...

Anytime you want the Anne series, let me know. It is actually here, not at Moms, so you will have to warn me if you want it. And I agree with Carrie, it is good all the way through - Rilla of Ingleside, book 8, may actually be my favorite!
I will have to borrow your Bronte books. I have read very few of theirs.

Laura's Reviews said...

Great reviews! I love The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, truthfully more than I like Wuthering Heights. I think it is a masterpiece and I don't really understand why it and Anne are not as highly regarded as Charlotte and Emily and their most famous works. I like the deep themes in the book including faith and alcoholism. It was a pretty daring book for its time.

I actually did the opposite of you and watched the movie first when it came out in the 90's and then read the novel . . . doing it that way, I love the mini-series!