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Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
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Agnes Grey (1847)

by Anne Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,8821231,942 (3.57)3 / 441
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English (117)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 117 (next | show all)
Anne is very under appreciated.

I like her more realistic style.

The book is told in the first person by Agnes. As a governess Agnes is given no real authority to punish her charges. So of course they feel free to disrespect her. ( )
  nx74defiant | Mar 30, 2019 |
Countering all of the romanticism of the position popularized by her sister, and showing the quiet humiliation faced by the marginalized figures in other works, 'Agnes Grey' reveals the true lot of the governess. Agnes is a bright woman who is eager to do her part to support her family after they fall upon hard times. Her nervous optimism is soon shattered soon after she accepts her first position.

The novel was pulled from Bronte's own experiences as a governess and the book reads like someone relieved to open up. There's nothing like coming home from a bad day at work and saying "you'll never believe what happened this time...". A governess lives in her employer's house, as servants did, but as an acknowledged gentlewoman she also could not form bonds with other household staff. It was a lonely position, and a difficult one if your authority is limited to the boundaries that Agnes' employers gave her. There would have been no opportunity to decompress or garner sympathy from a friend except through letters - and it becomes clear that Agnes is not the sort of woman who would allow herself that kind of luxury.

Her charges are cruel, little monsters - children - or spoiled and inattentive. She is expected to correct faults and educate, but without inconveniencing them in any way. The contradictions, the hypocrisy, and again and again, the isolation and lack of understanding are insurmountable obstacles. Her only outlet to us, her readers, is a modern one: sarcasm. Agnes' sarcasm and irony nicely offset her faith and lovelorn denials. My impression is that Agnes found strength in her religion, but sanity in pointing out the often bizarre behavior and expectations of her employers and their families. As bleak as her situation can be, there are smiles and I could see the long suffering Agnes rolling her eyes behind her mistresses' back after yet another contradictory order.

'Agnes Grey' deals with grim realities which is a refreshing antidote to my other Victorian reading proclivities. Of her two novels this one feels superior for its simpler structure and the success of Agnes in facing stern tests of her character, she shouts down doubts about herself, and she persists. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
(Original Review, 1981-02-06)

I read "Agnes Grey" after a visit to the Mosteiros dos Jerónimos, supposing I ought to try the lesser known sister after reading so much of Charlotte's work and of course “Wuthering Heights.” What a wonderful surprise. Anne had me at "...she would rather live in a cottage with Richard Grey than in a palace with any other man in the world." It's a beautiful novel and undeservedly overlooked. The tone is on the surface much less dark, but Anne pulls no punches about women's oppression and the appalling behaviour of the 'noble' families she had the misfortune to encounter in her time as a governess. The dialogue reminds me of Jane Austen in places, exchanges that are gently witty and scathing. Mr. Weston is something of an unassuming romantic interest, but coming to the novel as an adult I rather more appreciate Anne's quietly decent men than the Byronic sociopaths her sisters were obsessed with. For me the novel is more about women. Agnes' relationship with her mother is genuinely touching, imbued with Anne's longing for her own. The final meeting between Agnes and Rosalie juxtaposing their characters and fates, now firmly fixed, is haunting stuff. Anne's heroines are not defined by the men they love, but by their own convictions and resources - how refreshing even in 1981! ( )
  antao | Dec 2, 2018 |
What's most interesting about Agnes Grey is that it gives its readers a chance to get a glimpse of what it meant to be a governess back in those days. Governesses were doomed to a life of solitude and self-effacing, always at the mercy of their charges' whims, since to submit and oblige was the governess's part, to consult their own pleasure was that of the pupils, as Agnes herself laments at one point of the novel. They were neither part of their employers' social circles nor were they servants; despised by both, cared for by none.

And, though I would have loved for Agnes to develop more as a character throughout the novel, and her excessive conscientousness grated on me at times, it's been an interesting read. The text flows efortlessly in a beautiful way which, notwithstanding its naked realism, still allows for some deep and observant thoughts, and everything is permeated with a sense of truth that I highly appreciate.

No doubt Anne Brontë knew what she was writing about.


Do you want to know in full detail what I thought of the novel? Head over to my blog to find out.

Moonlight and Sims' review of Agnes Grey ( )
  Marsar | Sep 27, 2018 |
# 13 of 100 Classics Challenge

Agnes Grey🍒🍒🍒🍒
By Anne Bronte
1847

Partially influenced by her personal experience as a governess, Anne Bronte takes us into her world of the humble, mistreated and overworked governesses, with horribly undisciplined mean children of the rich.She falls for an impossible man, but eventually finds true love. And happiness.A great classic. My first Anne Bronte and not my last. ( )
  over.the.edge | Sep 16, 2018 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Brontë, Anneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brockway, HarryIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Desai, AnitaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Douglas, HazelNarratorsecondary 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
May, NadiaReadersecondary 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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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)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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