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Agnes Grey (1847)
by Anne Brontë
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What a beautiful little story. Anne Bronte, like both her sisters, writes such interesting female characters. This is not a long or very complicated story, but it is one which touched my heart. ( )
A slow to boil and very engaging semi-autobiographical novel of working as a governess.
I enjoyed this, but I loved TENANT AT WF HALL more, mostly because Agatha wasn't as assertive as I would have liked. What can you do as a governess in the early 1800s except be abused a lot, by both parents and students. As much as I love Jane Eyre, Anne's novel gave a truer picture of how difficult life was for a governess--without the crazy lady in the attic!
Agnes Grey had its highs and lows for me, but it definitely stood in contrast to the works of Anne Bronte's more fiery sisters. This is no Gothic or angst-y epic; in fact, at the end, it reads surprisingly more like a Jane Austen novel than a stereotypical Bronte.
Agnes Grey comes from a modest ecclesiastical family, but when money becomes a problem for them, she suggests that she should go out as a governess. What could be more delightful than "teaching the young idea how to shoot"?
A lot of things, as it turns out.
The people for whom she ends up working (and there are two sets of them in succession) are pretty awful in their different ways. Her students are intractable and their parents unreasonable. There is literally no one within the household who treats her with even a modicum of respect. It can be pretty hard to read. Especially the birds scene. Which I basically skipped.
The first experience she has reads more like a memoir--her general impressions are skimmed over, but there's not a lot of plot, other than "It was miserable."
Her second experience feels more like a novel, because she begins to relate everyday occurrences with more detail, and because it's at this juncture that her heart is touched, and you begin to feel more closely connected to her.
She meets and falls in love with the curate Mr. Weston. Her hopes and fears about her chances with him loom large for the remainder of the story, but all is nicely wrapped up in some sweet, domestic scenes that, like I said, would not be out of place in Austen.
This novel is evidently pretty autobiographical in some ways, as the Brontes had experience in the trials of governessing. I had the idea for the first part of the book that I may as well have been reading Anne's own journal, so strong a sense of personal experience did I get. This was probably heightened for me by the little bit of reading I've done recently about the Bronte sisters, and by watching "To Walk Invisible," a film about their literary careers.
This was just a fun, escape read. Not as deep as Jane Eyre, but a light, interesting journey into another time and place.
Belongs to Publisher Series
Club Victòria (3)
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Is contained in
Villette by Charlotte Brontë (indirect)
The Complete Novels: Agnes Grey / Jane Eyre / The Professor / Shirley / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Villette / Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Brontë
Vilette / Jane Eyre / Shirley / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Agnes Grey / Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Brontë
The Brontë Collection: Includes Jane Eyre, The Professor, Shirley, Villette, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Cottage Poems and More by Charlotte Brontë
The Complete Novels of the Brontë Sisters (8 Novels: Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette, The Professor, Emma, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) by Charlotte Brontë
6 Volume Set Jane Eyre, Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, Professor, Poems, Miscellanea, Shirley, Villete by Charlotte Brontë
Brontë Sisters: The Professor / Angrian Tales and Poems / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Agnes Grey / Wuthering Heights / Jane Eyre / Villette / Shirley by Anne Brontë
Agnes Grey / The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Jane Eyre / The Professor / Villette / Wuthering Heights / Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell by Anne Brontë
The Best of the Brontës by Charlotte Brontë (indirect)
Villette / Shirley / by Charlotte Brontë (indirect)
Villette (annotated): by Charlotte Brontë by Charlotte Brontë (indirect)
Life and Works of the Brontë Sisters (Thornfield Edition) by Emily and Charlotte Bronte. Edited By Temple Scott (indirect)
Romance Classics: Jane Eyre / Mansfield Park / Lorna Doone / Far from the Madding Crowd / Middlemarch / Agnes Grey by Charlotte Brontë
Is abridged in
Agnes Grey is the daughter of a minister who faces financial ruin. Agnes decides to take up one of the only professions available to Victorian gentlewomen and become a governess. Drawing on her own, similar experiences, Anne Bronte portrays the desperation of such a position. Agnes' livelihood depends on the whim of spoiled children, and she witnesses how wealth and status can degrade social values.
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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.
An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.