I usually breathe a sigh of relief when I finish a “classic” like Wildfell Hall. I certainly did after Persuasion which I shall review shortly. But Anne’s classic has a lot to offer despite suffering from the romantic literary afflictions of its time.
It’s been a while since I finished this. I’ve been busy moving job and country and getting the 1001 Books App through the next stage of its development. So, I won’t lie to you and pretend that I remember the storyline much or that the book made a huge impression on me.
But I think that if I had been a woman at the time it was written, I would have found some of it scandalously exciting. This is because it largely consists of a woman fighting her way through the world while married to a character who is designed to epitomise the worst about men who are, lets face it, probably the second best gender of humanity.
As a result, I do recall that there were scenes where, for a woman to behave as this protagonist does, was fairly shocking for the time. The book obviously has a significant legacy even if it isn’t as gripping as perhaps we’re used to these days. It’s worth a read if you are willing to make some effort to understand its historical significance. Actually, it’s probably worth a read even if you don’t.
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