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Agnes Grey (1847)

by Anne Brontë

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,3531401,989 (3.57)3 / 483
A novel set in Victorian England based on the author's experiences, describing the desperate position of unmarried, educated women driven to take up the only "respectable" career open to them: that of a governess. Struggling with the monstrous Bloomfield children, then disdained in the superior Murray household, Agnes tells a story that is a compelling inside view of Victorian chauvinism and ruthless materialism.… (more)
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  4. 10
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English (133)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (140)
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
meh! excited for wildfell hall. ( )
  rosscharles | May 19, 2021 |
Coming back to this one because I haven't been giving it the attention it deserves. ♥
  rjcrunden | Feb 2, 2021 |
Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey is certainly subpar with the magnificent and pioneering work of feminism The Tenant of Wildfell Hall; more so compared to what’s considered to be the better known, better Brontë works Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. A partly autobiographical work, Agnes Grey takes us to its titular character’s challenges and an expectedly monotonous life as a governess. From one household to another, from a set of bratty kids to vain, spoiled female young adults, Agnes Grey mostly keeps to herself and rebel in the subtlest of ways. Perhaps this subtlety prevents the novel from imparting a lingering emotional punch hence it can be rather dull though thankfully a quick read. As its romance also almost follows this similar vein of subtlety, pack with a lot of religious sentiments, it’s not at all very exciting and intriguing. Rochester and Heathcliff read like the ultimate, problematic bad boys you can’t help but love against the boringly forgettable mr. nice guy Weston. There is also not much of a family drama present save for some expected death and of course, significantly, its inclusion of feministic views much ahead of its time with regards to profession and the “moral responsibility” one have to one’s own parents (which I think is somehow losing its traction in modern times for the better or for worse). Eventually this closes in predictable contentment. As Agnes Grey starts off with a lot of acceptable promises, it does end committing to these promises albeit only acceptably so. ( )
  lethalmauve | Jan 25, 2021 |
Agnes Grey
by Anne Brontë
42697514
Allie Farrell's reviewDec 31, 2020 · edit
really liked it

Agnes Grey is the story of a young rector's daughter who, in order to assist her impecunious family, becomes a governess for children of wealthy parents. The first family for whom she works is utterly dreadful, but there is more to like in the second family. The teenagers and younger children are terribly spoiled, and lack the interest to learn anything. To mitigate that, Agnes Grey meets a young curate, with whom she falls in love as he is kind, intelligent, faithful to God, and pleasing to her eye.

As with all Bronte novels, the work is to a degree pedantic, and leaves the reader in no doubt about what is correct and incorrect behaviour. As a parson's daughter, Anne Bronte learned her Bible well, and quotes from it quite frequently. However, the book is more than just instructive; it is well-written, fervently felt, and gives the reader a close understanding of how little hired servants - even governesses - are treated by the families that they work for. Anne Bronte, before her death from tuberculosis at age 29, worked as a governess, and it is likely that her novel is based upon real experiences and feelings.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Occasionally I got mired down in passages about good character, but the story flowed nicely, and I became earnestly attached to Agnes Grey, and wished that I were as virtuous she was. ( )
  ahef1963 | Dec 31, 2020 |
Another hit for Team Anne! I have no idea why I took so long to read this delightful little novel - the threat of animal abuse in the introduction, I think - but I'm glad I finally did. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a triumph of realism over romanticism, and Agnes Grey does the same for the governess tale (I'm not a fan of Jane Eyre!)

Agnes Grey, unlike her fictional cousin Jane, volunteers to become a governess in order to support her family. The first family she works for, the Bloomfields, are living example of why some people shouldn't have children just because they can (and why taking charge of the monsters they produce is a thankless task). The three young children are spoiled rotten and Agnes, much like Anne herself, is soon let go because she can do nothing with them. Moving onto a new family, the Murrays, who are of a better class than the Bloomfields, Agnes is given the task of 'improving' the two young ladies, Rosalie and Matilda, while the sons are sent away to school. I actually loved the Murrays, particularly Rosalie, who knows she is a beauty and treats men like playthings! Like Austen's Emma, not a lot happens - Agnes stays with the Murrays and gets ignored and blamed on a regular basis, while finding herself drawn to the local curate - but the eponymous narrator is so delightfully blunt - in her thoughts, if not her speech - that I was instantly drawn into her small world.

There is a boring chapter given over to the religious ramblings of a 'cottager' - not in that sense! - who requires Agnes to read the Bible to her and sings the praises of Weston the curate during her visits, and Agnes herself is ridiculously slow to pick up on a proposal towards the end of the book, but overall, I enjoyed Anne's first novel. She is honest about cruelty, ignorance and vanity without going overboard (*cough cough* Charlotte and Emily) and her heroine might be pious in person but she's wonderfully haughty in thought (walk in front of Agnes and ignore her? How very dare!) ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Sep 11, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (next | show all)
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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.
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.
Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.
I was sorry for her; I was amazed, disgusted at her heartless vanity; I wondered why so much beauty should be given to those who made so bad a use of it, and denied to some who would make it a benefit to both themselves and others. But, God knows best, I concluded. There are, I suppose, some men as vain, as selfish, and as heartless as she is, and, perhaps, such women may be useful to punish them
"What a fool you must be," said my head to my heart, or my sterner to my softer self.
'No, thank you, I don't mind the rain,' I said.I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.
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A novel set in Victorian England based on the author's experiences, describing the desperate position of unmarried, educated women driven to take up the only "respectable" career open to them: that of a governess. Struggling with the monstrous Bloomfield children, then disdained in the superior Murray household, Agnes tells a story that is a compelling inside view of Victorian chauvinism and ruthless materialism.

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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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Penguin Australia

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