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Agnes Grey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) (original 1847; edition 2005)

by Anne Bronte, Fred Schwarzbach (Introduction)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,078841,844 (3.57)2 / 322
Member:bleached
Title:Agnes Grey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
Authors:Anne Bronte
Other authors:Fred Schwarzbach (Introduction)
Info:Barnes & Noble Classics (2005), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Recommended
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction, Governess, 19th century, England, Bronte, Classic, Society, Love

Work details

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë (1847)

  1. 80
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (Medellia)
  2. 70
    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. 20
    Persuasion [Norton Critical Edition] by Jane Austen (kiwiflowa)
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English (80)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
Fodder for all romance novelists who followed the Brontes, how many ways can you tell the story of a mousy, governess beset on all sides by poverty, the winds of fate and wicked souls who try, if not her virtue, at least her patience? Yet she victoriously outlasts them all through her basic goodness to win the heart and hand of the right man in the end. Anne Bronte's heroine may be a bit boring, but her wonderfully descriptive passages lift Agnes Grey above the ordinary. Her intense attention to detail and personality are extremely well done, particularly regarding some of the nasty little psychopathic charges Miss Grey had to take in hand and their equally repulsive parents. ( )
  varielle | Jun 29, 2015 |
*2015 Reading Challenge*: A book written by an author with your same initials

Me faltan dos iniciales más para completar pero...bue...me voy a volver loca encontrando un autor con mis cuatro iniciales
  LaMala | Jun 7, 2015 |
I liked this pretty well. A little wordy, as can be expected in Victorian-era literature, but a nicely wrought piece of work - especially from such a young author.
  ScoLgo | May 14, 2015 |
I liked this book by Anne Bronte about the governess. It is so interesting to read about the past in this way. I think that if I had been in her shoes I wouldn't even have lasted a week. I think I will need to read it again. ( )
  Anietzerck | Dec 28, 2014 |
This was a short, fun read, which was quite a treat after some of the more sloggy stuff I've read in the recent past.

There were certainly some sections where it was quite obvious the novel was written by someone quite young (the ending, in particular), but it's well-written, especially the characters. There's fairly limited dialogue, but what's there is done quite enjoyably and each character has her own distinct voice.

I loved how aware Brontë was of---and unafraid of writing about---the differences in how males and females were perceived in her culture. For example, when she talks about how unprepared the first of her boy pupils was when he left for school, she notes that "this, doubtless, would all be laid to the account of his education having been intrusted to an ignorant female teacher, who had presumed to take in hand what she was wholly incompetent to perform." (60) She notes this after describing in detail the challenges, restrictions, and unrealistic demands that made her less effective as a governess than she would otherwise have been. As female governess, she would never be given the benefit of the doubt; if her male pupils didn't do well, it couldn't possibly be anyone's fault but her own.

Despite Agnes' insistence on detailing her own shortcomings, I found her thoroughly "good" yet still quite delightful, like when she has fits of snark. "Climax of horror! actually waiting for their governess!!"(90) she writes when her pupils complain when she's not ready at their every whim. I suspect that Agnes would chide herself for this kind of thing, but it's also what makes her human and likable. Otherwise she would be just too perfect, bearing so much mistreatment unrealistically graciously.

On the opposite side of the coin is Rosalie, who reminds me of a girl who bullied me in junior high and the mixed feelings I had when I found her on Facebook many, many years later. Just as Agnes is good, but not totally good, Rosalie is wicked, but not 100% wicked. Rosalie's biggest flaw is that she can't empathize with anyone else. As Agnes describes the reactions of Rosalie and her sister to the cottagers on their father's estate,

"They never in thought exchanged places with them; and, consequently, had no consideration for their feelings, regarding them as an order of beings entirely distinct from themselves." (77)

Without the ability to put herself in anyone else's place, she's never able to make a true connection with another person, and this is part of what makes her a sympathetic character despite quotes like this: "I can't centre all my hopes in a child; that is only one degree better than devoting oneself to a dog." (162)

When I started writing this review, I had given this book three stars, but by the time I got to the third paragraph, I bumped it up to four stars. By then I'd realized how much I really did enjoy the book. Time will tell whether it will stick with me or not, but even if I forget a lot of it, I hope I remember this quote, which I find amusing just for the list it contains: "...between carts and horses, and asses, and men, there was little room for social intercourse..." (168) It seems to describe how I often feel in busy social situations. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Dec 1, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (12 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
Smith, AnneIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suess, Barbara A.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
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.
Quotations
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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.
Haiku summary

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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