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Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics) by Anne…
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Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics) (original 1847; edition 1989)

by Anne Brontë, Angeline Goreau (Editor)

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3,248921,706 (3.56)2 / 331
Member:hemlokgang
Title:Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics)
Authors:Anne Brontë
Other authors:Angeline Goreau (Editor)
Info:Penguin Classics (1989), Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:1001, England, Audiobook

Work details

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (1847)

  1. 80
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Medellia)
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    Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Medellia)
    Medellia: Both books have sweet, shy, thoroughly virtuous protagonists, if you're a fan of that sort of character. (I am, and loved both novels!)
  3. 30
    Persuasion [Norton Critical Edition] by Jane Austen (kiwiflowa)
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English (87)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (92)
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
Reread after seeing a BBC documentary on the Bronte sisters ( )
  aine.fin | Apr 1, 2016 |
Slow, sometimes overly pious and reflective. Bronte does have plenty to say about wealthy people of the time. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
Slow, sometimes overly pious and reflective. Bronte does have plenty to say about wealthy people of the time. ( )
  mamashepp | Mar 29, 2016 |
A wealthy and feted woman falls in love with a humble clergyman, and insists on marrying him, although it loses her her dowry. The vicar cannot stop tormenting himself over all his wife gave up, to the extent that he loses what little money he has in a too-bold investment. As gentleborn, well-educated, penniless women, there are few options left for his daughters; the older takes up selling delicate watercolors, while the younger, Agnes, hires herself out as a governess. The first family she works for is terrible; she is not allowed to discipline the children, and every adult around them seems bent on ruining them. It is here that Agnes's true strength of character is revealed. Rather than allow a little boy from torturing a nest of baby birds to death, she squashes them flat. When his uncle says he will find the boy another nest to "play" with, she calmly informs him that if he does, she will kill them too. She is hard as nails. I was glad to read this interlude, because for the vast majority of the book Agnes is silent and seemingly submissive, and only her internal narration reveals her stubborn, judgmental piety. As a governess, she is never in a situation where she can reveal her true feelings, or even effect much change. She cannot discipline or reward her students with anything but her own approval or disapproval--no matter how often she thinks about how helpful a good beating would be.

The second family is more interesting, and drawn with slightly more nuanced strokes. Agnes is to polish two young ladies: Rosalie, who is beautiful but shallow, and her sister Matilda, who is boisterous and careless. It is the same basic idea as in [b:Villette|31173|Villette|Charlotte Brontë|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41FTQiiRV-L._SL75_.jpg|2033945], where the poor, plain, virtuous narrator is contrasted with a vivacious, wealthy, thoughtless blonde. Both women are attracted to the kind and virtuous Mr.Weston. In Villete, the rivalry was complicated by the warmth and friendship between the two women; this is largely absent from [b:Agnes Grey|298230|Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics)|Anne Brontë|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1237155773s/298230.jpg|2222441], to the book's detriment. Agnes feels only patronizing pity or anger for Rosalie, and Rosalie has no depth of feeling. A few times, her anger at her situation flashes up--even as beautiful and privileged as she is, she knows that her life is bound by the choices of the men in her life, not her own, and she takes what petty revenges she can. But in the end, Rosalie serves more as an object lesson against seeking pleasure and freedom than as a character in her own right. (As much as I hate Amy/Laurie, at least their marriage isn't a morality play in misery to make the main character's own lackluster marriage look better.)

I really enjoyed this book at first. The writing style is good, and several of the characters are well-drawn (Agnes's mother was a favorite of mine). But Anne Bronte cannot seem to help herself from making everything a lesson. The few times when she lets slip her sarcasm are fantastic, but much of this book is a drab series of events in the life of a priggish and self-satisfied woman. Agnes herself is frustrating--I found her the least likeable when I was clearly supposed to admire her the most (when, for instance, she moralizes to a sickly old woman). She has no sense of humor. She constantly martyrs herself. And the man she moons over is utterly colorless: all we know of him is that he likes visiting the poor and misses his mother. The few interactions he has with Agnes sound like job interviews: do you like to read? are you unsociable? how much charity work do you do? etc. We the reader know little about him, and certainly nothing about how he talks, for Bronte wrote more dialog between Rosalie and one of her suitors than she provides for Agnes and the love of her life. I think Bronte was actually more attracted to the story of Rosalie, but felt it wrong not to provide a moral heroine.

Available online ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
A very descriptive account of what the life of a governess could be in families with overindulged children. I found the book largely tedious but it did, at least, have a happy ending. 3 1/2 stars ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 87 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaReadermain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desai, AnitaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flosnik, AnneNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fox, EmiliaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goreau, AngelineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Inglesfield, RobertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kaarma, JüriIllustreerija,secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kepler, RagneTÕlkija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kipp, SabineNachwortsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kuusik, TerjeToimetaja.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, AnneTÕlkija.secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lopez, Menchu GutierrezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marsden, HildaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, AnthonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ruohtula, KaarinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schwarzbach, FredIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shuttleworth, SallyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AnneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suess, Barbara A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.
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It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, no one ever cares for the exterior.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Agnes Grey is forced by the poverty ensuing on her father's death to seek work as a governess, the only employment available to middle-class young women of the time. Her humiliating first position lasts only six months, but she is soon employed by the Murray family. Tormented by the coquettish Rosalie and the student tomboy Matilda, she finds her position increasingly lonely and difficult. Only Mr Weston, the poor, plain curate shows any kindness, and Rosalie seems bent on his conquest. Anne Bronte knew only too well what is was to be a governess - "your efforts baffled and set at nought by those beneath you, and unjustly censured by those above". With Agnes Grey she created an impassioned account of a role which stripped so many Victorian women of their dignity. And, reinforcing her insistence on a woman's right to personal freedom, vividly presents the natural landscape as a mirror to her heroine's inner life.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140432108, Paperback)

When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes' enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Bronte's first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:05 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes' enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Bronte's first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 17 descriptions

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