Hipster Reading: Anne Bronte


I pick up books for all sorts of reasons: I like the author, it looks interesting, I like the cover (another dirty reading secret), a recommendation from a friend…

In this case, I saw this comic from Hark! A Vagrant posted on Facebook. I didn’t get though Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte). I thought Bertha was the best part of Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte). Since Anne was the black sheep of the hero-writing sisters, maybe I should give her a try. My husband joked that I was reading like a hipster, because Charlotte and Emily were too mainstream.

I got through The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (go, Anne!), but I didn’t like any of the characters. Not even the heroes. She certainly didn’t shy away from writing about abuse or alcoholism, so I give her kudos for that. What really annoyed me was that no one talked to each other. I realize this is a complaint more about the style of the time than of the author’s style, but really, for all the pages of dialogue, no one said anything.

Character 1: I don’t think you should marry him.

Character 2: But I love him.

C1: But there are some faults in his character that I will allude to for three paragraphs but never actually mention.

C2: See, you said nothing to dissuade me from marrying him because I didn’t understand that X meant Y.

There were multiple dramatic points that could have been avoided if people had just spoken up or asked a question rather than assuming. Ug.


Close shot of dozens of the orange lights atop the construction warning horses

Road Construction Lights by seanmcmenemy CC 3.0 flickr.com/photos/seanfx/5049298316

Think your niece is about to marry a whoring alcoholic? Say so. Your landlord is really your brother? Don’t let the guy you like think your brother’s your lover…just tell the truth.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how odd it was to read characters that actually spoke what they thought (Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency series) and how that seemed weird. Well, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall would the on the opposite end of the spectrum. I wanted to shake some sense into these characters…even though that flies in the face of the don’t-shake-your-wife message of one of the scenes.

Anyone here a Bronte fan? Ever read Anne?


4 thoughts on “Hipster Reading: Anne Bronte

  1. bethfinke

    I liked Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre but haven’t read any more by those two and never tried Anne. I’ve been trying to read more classics lately, though – they are referred to in so many other bits of literature, I often feel I’m missing something when a modern writer refers to Henry Miller or some such and I haven’t read anything by him. (Note to self: put Henry and June on reading list.) I rarely read two books by any of the classic authors, there are so many classic authors I haven’t read yet I think it’s more important to keep reading new classics (is that an oxymoron?) Example: haven’t read any Faulkner yet, just downloaded Sound and the Fury.
    But thank you for this post, I will not bother with Anne Bronte now.

  2. I hate, hate, hate Wuthering Heights (what’s dubbed as timeless romance is really just a terrible case of obsession and abuse), but liked Jane Eyre (especially Bertha!). I can’t imagine reading a book with so little dialogue as the example you brought of Anne Bronte.

    I’ve read lots of classics, but some just mystify me as to why they are classic (see note about Wuthering Heights). Others are as fresh today as they were when originally published. But I agree with Beth above that it feels good to read them so that when other people reference them, it doesn’t go over your head.

    • Oh, I didn’t mean to imply that Anne didn’t use dialogue. Quite the contrary. What should have taken three lines of dialogue filled paragraphs and pages…all of them beating around the bush.

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