Okay, now I've completed the Bronte set. I've read Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and now The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte...
So, what did I think of it?
Well, Anne Bronte is every bit as accomplished an author as her sisters. Masterful use of language and description.
...but it was a bit slow. The whole story was very deliberate, and didn't lack for detail one bit.
Maybe one reason it was slow is that it was descriptive, but not compelling. Anne creates her byronic hero, Mr. Huntingdon to compete with Charlotte's Mr. Rochester. (nobody compares with Heathcliff...). The difference is that she's not infatuated with him. There are a few chapters in which she is, but it's over the top-- she's EXCEPTIONALLY silly and stupid in love. (give this book to my daughter when she gets to be about 18 and has her first serious relationship) Then she gets over it and realizes he's a dork.
Kate Beaton put it very well: http://www.harkavagrant.com/index.php?id=202
"Anne, why are you writing books about how alcoholic losers ruin people's lives? Don't you see that romanticizing douchey behavior is the proper literary convention in this family! Honestly." (-ibid)
Yeah, so there's no overwhelming love story because the guy is a jerk, and the main character knows it. The rest reads a bit like some 19th-century Ladies Temperance Society tract.
So, it wasn't a great read in the sense that Wuthering Heights was a great read, but it's probably the more intelligent of the two novels.
On an unrelated note, I learned that the name Bronte (with the umlaut) is a pretentious fancification of the Irish "Brunty". I'm not sure we'd be as likely to enshrine the Brunty sisters in the literary pantheon.
Okay. more Bronte humor from Kate Beaton: