Agnes Grey

ISBN: 1420925512
ISBN 13: 9781420925517
By: Anne Brontë

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About this book

"Agnes Grey" is the story of its title character who takes up a position as a governess. Anne Bronte's first novel was based on her own experiences as a governess and depicts the loneliness and isolation of the position. Agnes Grey as governess of the Bloomfield and Murray households experiences hardship and humiliation as a result of the families' snobbery. "Agnes Grey is" as much an autobiographical account of Bronte's own experiences as it is an indictment of the shallowness of the upper class.

Reader's Thoughts

Jennifer

This book is primarily about the difficulties of being a teacher. It should be completely outdated, as eduction has changed so drastically in the last 150 years. Strangely, it is not. If anything, the triangle between teachers, pupils, and parents has only become more estranged.If modern teachers were asked about the three things which most hamper their teaching efforts, they would list Agnes' grievances in the same order:1. A teacher cannot teach in a classroom without discipline.2. An emphasis on good "grades" must not overshadow actual learning.3. Lessons cannot be productive without some effort from the students.I think if Anne Bronte were alive today, she would say that schools, teachers, and children have changed a great deal, but that parents have not changed at all.

Adela C.

Ca fană a literaturii engleze, nu am putut să spun „nu” colecției de cărți „Surorile Bronte” lansată anul acesta de Adevărul. Cartea spune povestea lui Agnes Grey, inspirată din viața autoarei. Fată de preot fiind, Agnes „ne ține morală” pe tot parcursul romanului, lucru ce începe să devină obositor și totodată enervant în a doua jumătate a romanului. Pe lângă asta, ea observă și analizează defectele tuturor persoanelor ce o înconjoară, cu excepția familiei sale, a unor săteni săraci și a bărbatului de care se îndrăgostește. De asemenea, m-a iritat folosirea excesivă a unor formulări de tipul „ca să nu plictisesc cititorul”, sub care pretext evită să dea mai multe detalii despre evenimente pe care nu dorește să le evidențieze. Am ținut să încep cu aspectele negative ale cărții, pentru că mi-au lăsat o impresie mai puternică decât cele pozitive.Cu toate acestea, însă, nu pot spune că nu a fost o lectură neplăcută, ba din contră! Dacă felul în care e spusă povestea m-a călcat puțin pe bătături, romanul în sine e unul interesant. Mama lui Agnes era o doamnă din înalta societate, care a renunțat la zestrea sa pentru a se mărita cu un pastor, pe care îl iubea din toată inima. Dintre toți copiii pe care i-au avut, au supraviețuit doar două fete: Agnes (personaj principal și narator) și sora ei mai mare, al cărei nume îmi scapă și, la drept vorbind, nici nu contează. Când familia începe să aibă probleme financiare, Agnes insistă să devină guvernantă și, după multe încercări de a-și convinge părinții, aceștia acceptă. Astfel ajunge la familia Bloomfield, ai cărei copii sunt de-a dreptul îngrozitori: răzgâiați, egoiști, neascultători și fără dorință de a învăța. Mi-a atras atenția un pasaj anume, pe care aș vrea să-l citez, ca să vă faceți o părere despre cât de groaznici erau.„Pe iarba din grădina lui am observat niște grămăjoare din bețe și sfori, așa că am întrebat ce sunt.- Capcane pentru păsări.- De ce prinzi păsări? (...) Și ce faci cu ele după ce le prinzi?- Diverse. Uneori le dau la prăjit, alteori le tai cu briceagul. Iar pe următoarea o voi prăji de vie.- De ce să faci un lucru așa de îngrozitor?- Din două motive. Primul: să văd cât poate să trăiască. Doi: să văd ce gust are.”Lucrul cel mai rău e că părinții îi încurajează în aceste cruzimi și, în ciuda strădaniilor sale, Agnes nu reușește să îi învețe să facă lucruri bune, în cea mai mare parte datorită faptului că soții Bloomfield nu o lasă să apeleze la nicio metodă care i-ar câștiga autoritatea în fața micuților.La cea de-a doua familie de care e angajată, trebuie să educe două domnișoare: Rosalie - frumoasă, dar superficială și Matilda, o băiețoasă. Aici întâmpină alte probleme, dintre care o voi menționa doar pe cea esențială. Agnes se îndrăgostește de ajutorul pastorului, domnul Weston, față de care e, însă, rezervată în conversații și nu îndrăznește să spere la mai mult de o prietenie. Problema apare când Rosalie, care urmează să se mărite cu un om bogat, pe care nu-l iubește, după ce îi frânge inima pastorului, vrea să se „joace” și cu ajutorul său, doar ca să se amuze. La acest joc murdar, Agnes nu reacționează în niciun fel, suferind doar în interior.(view spoiler)[Rosalie se mărită, iar Agnes începe din nou să spere, dar, în cele din urmă, tatăl lui Agnes, care era bolnav, moare, iar Agnes renunță la postul de guvernantă, pentru a deschide o micuță școală pentru copii, împreună cu mama sa. Merge în vizită la Rosalie, acum măritată, la invitație acesteia, care e nefericită. Agnes speră să îl revadă pe dl Weston, dar acesta a părăsit satul. Întoarsă acasă câteva zile mai târziu, Agnes suferă pentru o vreme, iar mai târziu, când rănile dragostei încep să se vindece, îl întâlnește pe dl Weston pe plajă. Află că acesta are propria parohie într-un oraș din apropiere. Cei doi se întâlnesc de mai multe ori, după care dl. Weston o cere în căsătorie. Cei doi au trei copii și trăiesc fericiți, nu se știe dacă sau nu până la adânci bătrâneți, întrucât nu se menționează. (hide spoiler)]Pentru un prim roman, Anne Bronte face o treabă bună și cu siguranță nu voi evita să citesc și alte cărți semnate de ea. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

C.A.

A review I read of this book compared it to the beauty of a muslin dress, and I'd have to say that's the best analogy you could make. The construction of this novel is very plain, and the writing doesn't concern itself with dressing up situations, but there are subtle touches of characterization and grace that really impressed me. Anne Bronte has a lively tone that I think could be fairly compared with Jane Austen (this book reminded me a bit of Persuasion, which is one of my favorite Austen novels). The romance is understated and a bit coy, but the ending scene between Agnes and her curate resonates with what isn't being said. It has a very delicate tone, and it's not surprising that Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre drowned it out. But Anne Bronte was a very solid writer, and this while this first novel isn't perfect, there's more than promise exhibited here. Definitely worth a read if you like Victorian prose and are able to set aside Charlotte and Emily Bronte for a while.

MJ Nicholls

Firstly, let’s diagnose this phenomenon. I first encountered Brontëism—definable as a slavish devotion to every word the sisters put to parchment—at university. I encountered the syndrome in American students who had spent their teens reading comedies of manners and upmarket romance novels and found in the Brontës a vicarious way to eke out their own desires for windswept romances in huge drawing rooms. Then I met British students whose puppy love for Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre made me upchuck several weeks’ worth of pasta. So I cynically diagnosed the Brontë books as über-romance novels female readers held up as examples of the best sort of love possible in life—the love they would have if they could engineer their environment, to which all romantic relationships should aspire. Or versions of those moral-dilemma novels so popular at bookclubs and airports. It frustrated me. It was like having a particular area of literary history cordoned off to me. That I did not like.Only problem was, I wouldn’t read the books. Now, however, I am reading the books. So this series of reviews is my attempt to understand the phenomenon of the Brontës so I can legitimately express discontent at their contemporary omnipresence, or proclaim my undying love too.This novel is the first one by “the quiet one” Anne Brontë and describes her experiences as a governess in the homes of several brats. The first preconception smashed is that all Brontë novels are concerned with aristocratic characters: in this novel Agnes is from a lower middle-class family and volunteers to teach rich brats to help pay off her father’s debts. The chapters read like a handbook for being a patient and docile governess who has God on her side, with occasional turns of mannered humour and moments of affecting melodrama. The short chapters make the frequently dreary moments of micro-attention-to-detail regarding modes of deportment and social graces (that bog down so many novels of this period), more bearable. All in all, mildly entertaining. A lesser work from the lesser sister necessary for my experiment. More soon.N.B. The comments below refer to a review I wiped.N.N.B. Ever noticed the first initials of the sisters in alphabetical order spells A-C-E? Subliminal tactic?

Francine

There were a few things I really, really loved about Agnes Grey:1. The beauty, simplicity and flow of Brontë's writing (in epistolary form, no less!),2. The remarkably early consciousness regarding animal rights, and3. The excitement of once again losing myself in a quaint, romantic little jaunt through Victorian England.There were also a few things that really, really irked me about it:1. Agnes (both the character and the work) had a tendency to be overly preachy and moralistic,2. Despite being a coming-of-age story, Agnes herself undergoes very little growth, and3. As beautiful as the writing was, there were some passages throughout the novel that were tedious and dry.Okay, so positives first. The writing was beautiful. To me, there is nothing that quite approaches the beauty of works written in the late 18th through the 19th centuries. Some of my favorite authors and poets -- Austen, all three of the Brontës, Shelley, Tennyson, Frost, Eliot, Rosetti, Thackeray, Dickens, etc. -- were from that era. There are some fantastic modern writers that I would read over and over again, but nothing gives me pause or quickens my senses more than a wondrously written, perfectly worded passage, something that can whisk me away to some other place and time, something that stays with me just because it was so sublime.To wit: my team and I were having a grousing session at work the other day, and I shared this passage from Agnes Grey with them as I thought it was quite apropos (Agnes was complaining about the thankless nature of her job as governess):I can conceive few situations more harassing than that wherein, however you may long for success, however you may labour to fulfill your duty, your efforts are baffled and set at nought by those beneath you, and unjustly censured and misjudged by those above.I was, at first, met with silence, then all of them gushed simultaneously: Martin: "Wow...that was great. Never would I ever have thought to use 'that wherein' together!" Alison: "That is so true! But so wordy! No one uses half those words anymore!" Melissa: "Don't you ever read anything simple? Funny? Easy?"Of course, I could've just as easily have said "Nothing we do will ever please anyone here," but I thought Brontë's passage was so much more beautiful. Wordier, sure. But the fact that someone over a hundred years ago wrote this and elicited a sense of connection and understanding within me...that was pretty amazing.There were many other passages throughout the text that were so carefully and brilliantly crafted, and to me, that made this work something special. I was also quite taken by how Brontë was ahead of her time in crafting a novel that actually tried to make headway in the yet-unknown arena of showing decency to animals. While animal rights are commonplace in our age, a hundred fifty years ago, this was widely unknown. Some critics have posited that Brontë tried to draw parallels between animals and women and their shared vulnerabilities in a society that regarded both quite poorly. No matter the reason though, I liked this aspect of the novel a lot.Of the three Brontë sisters, I've always liked Anne the best, as I think The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is significantly better than Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in tone, scope and delivery. While all three sisters wrote about very strong women, I thought that Wildfell Hall was different in that it was about a woman who chose to openly defy societal and legal strictures to escape from a horrible life/marriage and establish herself as her own woman. Agnes Grey was written before Wildfell Hall, but in a way, I think that Anne Brontë may have used parts of Agnes Grey in what later became Wildfell Hall (e.g., a woman trapped in a horrible marriage, a woman deciding to leave her family and find her own way in the world). While Wildfell Hall is far superior to Agnes Grey, I think any reader would still benefit from a reading of the latter.Now to some of what annoyed me: Agnes was obviously devout and some may even say a bit Puritanical. However, she was also quite proud and I sometimes found myself thinking that she thought her character to be better than her charges' characters. Through a good portion of the first half of the novel, I kept thinking that for someone so religious and pious, Agnes sure didn't recognize that she was quite flawed herself. It was disappointing to me that there really wasn't much growth in Agnes' character. Yes, she left her family to make a living and not be a financial burden. Yes, she tried to instill better values in the children she was hired to watch and teach. But she wasn't very effective as a governess at either family she worked for. She wasn't well regarded by her employers and was even less so by her charges. It was a shame, because I felt that at least in this, Brontë missed the mark.Her romance with Mr. Weston was sweetly done; there was nothing out of the ordinary about it. What gave me pause, however, was not that the romance only blossomed in the last third of the book but that as Mr. Weston grew more familiar with Agnes, he -- and the readers -- didn't really see any growth in her. She was the same person at the start and end of her story and what is there in that, that would make someone fall hopelessly in love with that person? She didn't grow emotionally or psychologically; she didn't have any great discoveries about herself; she didn't have any "A-ha!" moments that made her realize that she had to be someone better. She just was. And that was kind of a letdown.Nevertheless, despite those two things, this was a good, solid read. It wasn't perfect (for that, read Wildfell Hall!), but it was passable and enjoyable. A nice easy read, for someone who just wants something different and who wouldn't mind being whisked away to a quieter, calmer, simpler time.

Henry Avila

In 1847, Charlotte Bronte's novel, Jane Eyre, was published, her sister Emily's, book also , Wuthering Heights and finally the 3rd sister, Anne's, Agnes Grey . The first two became classics, the other one, until recently, almost forgotten. An autobiographical novel with a simple plot. Poor clergyman's daughter, becomes a governess, to rich snobs, in order not to be, a burden to her family. Her father, Richard, lost his money in a bad investment, the ship didn't come in, it sank, worse yet, he owes money too... Agnes's parents and older sister Mary and she, must struggle to survive. It doesn't help that Richard Grey, goes into a deep depression, always brooding, and becomes nearly useless. Growing up Agnes, knows little about the rest of the world. Seeing only her relatives and educated by them. Reading was her escape from a dull, secluded life. After much persuasion (the unthinkable idea), Anne gets permission, to leave home and find work. Twenty miles from home, in Yorkshire. The eighteen- year- old, has secured a position, with the Bloomfield family. Four children, Tom,7, Mary Ann,6, Fanny,4 ,and Harriet, 2, all brats. The little boy likes torturing captured birds. The kindhearted Miss Grey, is powerless to prevent such cruelties. Mrs. Bloomfield(doesn't care), had given her a cold reception, putting Agnes, in her place, as a lowly governess. The new servant quickly becomes disillusioned, the world is a harsh place, indeed. The children disobey her, ridicule Agnes, and teaching them becomes impossible. The father, is never around, can't be bothered. She gets dismissed and returns home, to the drab parsonage. But Agnes will try again, this time seventy miles away, but another unpleasant experience . The Murray's have older children, two young boys and Rosalie at 16,very pretty, almost a woman but immature and selfish, and her tomboy younger sister Matilda, she would rather ride her horses, than dress up for dances. The only happiness is the curate she, Agnes, had met, Edward Weston, while visiting a sick old woman. But the plain looking girl, knows her limitations. Soon silly Rosalie, with much encouragement of her social climbing, callous mother, becomes engaged to a rich, evil, drunkard and barbaric aristocrat, Lord Ashby. The flirtatious Rosalie marries him, at a proper age, but loves another, Agnes had warned her, but was laughed at, just a common servant. It is all about money and social position ! Of course later on she, will greatly regret her choice. You can't sleep with gold, it gives no warmth. A chance meeting with Mr.Edward Weston, a man she never thought, would see, again, months after Agnes had left her work. On a lonely quiet beach, in Scarborough, early in the morning, as the glorious sun rose, the two watching the lovely sight, silently, but no words were necessary. They knew what each felt...

Wealhtheow

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 Villette, 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 Agnes Grey, 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

Atrebs

This was the one Bronte sister I hadn't read. I enjoyed it more for its commentary on dealing with students than anything else. here's my favorite quote from the young governess that I think is highly applicable in education today: "...a more arduous task than anyone can imagine, who has not felt something like the misery of being charged with the care and direction of a set of mischievous, turbulent rebels, whom his utmost exertions cannot bind to their duty; while, at the same time, he is responsible for their conduct to a higher power, who exacts from him what cannot be achieved without the aid of the superior's more potent authority; which, either from indolence, or the fear of becoming unpopular with the said rebellious gang, the latter refuses to give. I can conceive few situations more harassing than that wherein, however you may long for success, however you may labour to fulfil your duty, your efforts are baffled and set at nought by those beneath you, and unjustly censured and misjudged by those above..."

Bruce

The novels of Anne Brontë are less read today than are those of her sisters Emily and Charlotte, but in recent decades they have received more recognition than before. I found this particular novel to be interesting and skillfully written, worthy of greater attention than it has received in the past.The story is told in the first person by Agnes Grey, the daughter of an impoverished clergyman. Her mother married beneath her class and was disowned by her own family, but the marriage was a happy one. Only Agnes and her elder sister Mary survived of the couple’s children, and her father lost what little wealth he had accumulated when a speculative financial venture went awry. Determined to contribute to the family’s failing finances, Agnes convinces her parents to allow her to venture out as a governess, and she initially works for a cruel and abusive family. The parents are remote and unreasonable, caring only that their children do well without enabling Agnes to discipline them in any way, and the children are resistant, cruel, and sadistic. Eventually Agnes is let go and returns home. She is determined to succeed, however, and tries again with another family. The sons are sent away to school, removing them from the immediate scene, but the two daughters are wayward, both self-centered, the oldest interested only in flirtation and marriage, the younger a foul-mouthed tomboy interested only in riding and hunting. Again the parents hold Agnes responsible for the raising (in this case the unsuccessful raising) of the daughters and are only interested in marrying the girls off to wealthy husbands with little regard to those husbands’ characters. During Agnes’s time in this position she meets a kind and upright clergyman, Mr. Weston, with whom she falls in love, but there seems to be little prospect of this relationship developing further. Agnes’s own father then dies and she returns home to her mother (Mary having married successfully). The two of them move to another town and set up a small school, the story eventually ending happily.This novel has less obviously dramatic than the works of Emily and Charlotte Brontë, but it is nonetheless skillfully written with a fine sense of pace and psychological sensitivity and perception. The often unhappy role of a governess in Victorian society is clearly portrayed, a position somewhat outside the traditional class structure and therefore neither fish nor fowl, thus ambiguous and awkward, subject to high expectations, often little support, and frequent emotional abuse. The limited available roles for women in British society of the time are also examined. Interestingly, Anne also explores issues related to the treatment of and cruelty to animals. In general, her use of language and description is highly developed and very effective in conjuring mood and ambiance, nature and psychological state often corresponding.This book is well worth reading and thinking about. One cannot help reflecting on how contemporary occupational roles consign people to particular sets of social expectations, often limiting options and opportunities. To find a book that provokes deep thought while also providing substantive entertainment is gratifying.

Sherien

A simple story about a young girl's experience in being a governess for the upper class people in the Victorian era. The heroine--Agnes, becomes a governess to support herself and family because of her poor economic condition. Her condition gets more miserable because of the harsh and heartless treatments she gets from those of the upper class. Although it was quite a fast and enjoyable read, this first work from Anne Bronte cannot be compared to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Agnes Grey is Anne's earlier work and clearly, it shows how her ability in creating an amazing piece of literature had advanced in her later work (The Tenant...). I found the plot a bit dry and flat in Agnes Grey. The characters are plainly black and white. So what did I like about it then? The language still sure is beautiful, I found some parts to be funny, and even though it wasn’t very well crafted, I still see this as an important story concerning class distinction in those times. This is said to be autobiographical. Anne draws on her own experience as a governess. I recommend this to those who love the Bronte sisters and would like to know more about their world and life. This is a story about an educated but poor unmarried girl's experience as a governess and it gives us a glimpse of what those sisters' life were like. Very sympathetic.

Cecile

I read Agnes Grey because I am currently on a Bronte jag. However, I don't really feel like comparing Anne's work to those of her sisters because, well, sibling rivalry is mean.Some reviews of this book commented on an apparent lack of passion in the text; though that may be an accurate observation, it is not a bad one. Simple is not necessarily better than florid, you know. I did spend almost the entire novel thinking, "This Agnes is a self-righteous bitch" until it occurred to me near the end that she had an attitude and composition quite aligned with mine. Naturally, I then thought she was all right. More specifically, the novel is a description of Agnes' reaction to a trying job that is neither emotionally rewarding nor intellectually stimulating. Many of us understand.Overall, I thought it was all right: a quick read, sufficiently entertaining, with prose that sometimes made me laugh (in a good way, most of the time). The ending, unfortunately, was hurried and a bit dry, but since I hadn't invested more than a few hours on the novel, I didn't really mind.Bonus: Instead of downloading a copy of the Princeton Review's GRE Hit Parade, you can read this book and find the 300 most popular GRE words lined up one after the other, sometimes in a large block of consecutive paragraphs. It's like a set of flashcards, animated. Vocaburrific.

Rebecca

Again, I am very impressed with the style and proficiency of writing the youngest Bronte sister has. I really blazed through this book, whereas it took me a lot longer to read Villette (despite its being a much longer book, the time spent reading was disproportionate). I was intrigued by the article by Charlotte Bronte at the end of the book, where she reviews the life and works of her two younger sister, Emily and Anne. She really didn't understand Anne or her writing much at all. She had very little good to say about 'Tenant of Wildfell Hall' or 'Agnes Grey,' where these are thus far my favorite Bronte works. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys classics or historical fiction; however, it is written in quite the progressive style for its period, so a contemporary fiction lover would appreciate this just as much as a classics lover. huzzah!

Clare Cannon

I loved this short Anne Bronte romance, not quite as much as I loved her epic The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (I have a particular weakness for Bronte epics), but as a short novel this one is a treasure.It's so subtle, gentle, sensitive... so human. And though it tells of a time and culture so different from our own, we can learn from the author's ability to delight in goodness, and so rediscover a joy we had perhaps forgotten.I really must read more about the intriguing lives of the Bronte sisters.

Joseph

This was my fifty-first book of the year and the first that was on my to-read read list for 2013. I am not sure if its that old high school feeling of reading something that is a classic that initially makes me hesitate to read something called "a classic." All three Bronte sisters are on my list for this year. Agnes Grey's life as a governess reminded me of my student teaching days in college. Unlike Agnes, I had enough and decided that graduate school was a better choice than teaching. Too many Bloomfield children and parents changed my mind. Children are spoiled today as they were then and parents equally unbelieving of any criticism.Several themes in the book stand out. The obvious is the role of religion or belief and the rewards for the faithful. The role of women in society and even female children is obvious. Perhaps the most interesting theme is the treatment of animals and Agnes view and actions against cruelty to animals. Compassion for animals was not what I was expecting from Victorian writer. The writing is clear and straightforward and the story flows nearly flawlessly. The characters seem real and Agnes is a reader. A very worthwhile read.

Anne

If Agnes Grey was overall lacking in excitement and fun, it was nevertheless a very good novel with much merit. I think there were very good lessons to be learned from in there, and there were many passages and quotes that I loved and admired for their depths. Here a few of my favourites: "They that have beauty, let them be thankful for it, and make a good use of it, like any other talent; they that have it not, let them console themselves, and do the best they can without it: certainly though liable may be overestimated, it is a gift of God, and not to be despised." "Yes, at least they could not deprive me of that: I could think of him day and night: and I could feel that he was worthy to be thought of. Nobody knew him as I did; nobody could love him as I- could, if I might: but there was the evil. What business had I to think so much of one that never thought of me?" "Yet, I found such delight in thinking of him, and if I kept those thoughts to myself, and troubled no one else with them, where was the harm of it?" "Should I shrink from the work that God had set before me because it was not fitted to my taste? Did not He know best what I should do, and where I ought to labour? and should I long to quit His service before I had finished my task, and expect to enter into His rest without having laboured to earn it?" So yes, Agnes Grey is a very serious and "preachy" kind of novel, but it is extremely rich and I am very glad I read it. Agnes was a remarkable heroine. A bit dull and serious as she never seemed to laugh or smile or be very happy, but one could hardly wonder at it, considering all she had to suffer, and the retired, uninspiring existence she led. Despite all that, she was very brave and very strong to her morals and beliefs, for which I greatly admire her. I also enjoyed the romance between her and Mr. Weston, and the fact that he would remember her favourite flowers and bring her bouquets when he could find them. How cute was that! :)This was my first book of the two by Anne Brontë, and my second Brontë novel, after Jane Eyre. I feel like Agnes and Jane could be great friends! I am looking forward to reading more of their novels! Wuthering Heights will be up next I think!

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