27 May 2013

Reading journal for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, part 3

Since I'm on my coffee break at work I decided it was a good time to write down more of the thoughts I am having about this book.


I like the story so far. I am a little further on into Helen's narrative than I was last time, and things are progressing. Her narrative is diary entries, whereas Gilbert's opening narrative is letters to his brother-in-law, but this is no "dear diary" kind of thing. She is clearly writing for an audience (the reader), but since she of course doesn't know she is a character in a book one must assume the audience is, who? Herself? Or was Anne just being clumsy when she wrote it?

The man who I assume will turn out to be the cause of all her troubles and the father of her son is the charming but obviously somewhat rakish (to the reader and certain of the characters, although not Helen who seems to think he is just a lovable rascal) Mr. Huntingdon, which brings me to the names of the characters.

Gilbert's surname is Markham, which is a farmer's name (mark = boundary and ham = homestead), and he is a farmer.
The name of Mr. Boarham, one of Helen's suitors, seems to be onomatopoeic: bore 'em, but could also refer to his age and general condition (boar = adult male pig and ham = porky, fat).
As for Mr. Huntingdon, he is, where I am at in the book, clearly hunting or stalking Helen (or, in the chapter where I stopped reading, increasing her attraction by feigning disinterest), having, as it were, scented her attraction to him. The "hunt" in his name is therefore apt, and it is also a distinguished sounding name, which suggests he is a gentleman.

Helen's name is suggestive of Helen of Troy, over whom a great war was fought. I wonder if that will be the case?
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I am reading this book very slowly, a chapter or two at a time. This is typical for me when I find a book I enjoy. I either devour it in one or two long reading sessions, or I draw out the reading for as long as I can. Sometimes I do both for the same book - I read the exposition and early parts of the narrative slowly, so as to get to know the characters and important background information, and then shift into a faster gear when the narrative starts to move faster and I urgently want to see how it ends.I wonder if this will become one of those books?

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