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Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey [contains links to free audiobook]

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Contains links to a FREE AUDIOBOOK that can be downloaded to your device! At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister who Contains links to a FREE AUDIOBOOK that can be downloaded to your device! At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister whose family was in financial difficulty. She has only a few choices for employment. Agnes experiences the difficulty of reining in spoiled children and how wealth can corrupt morals.


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Contains links to a FREE AUDIOBOOK that can be downloaded to your device! At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister who Contains links to a FREE AUDIOBOOK that can be downloaded to your device! At age 19 Anne Brontë left home and worked as a governess for a few years before becoming a writer. Agnes Grey was an 1847 novel based on her experience as a governess. Bronte depicts the precarious position of a governess and how that can affect a young woman. Agnes was the daughter of a minister whose family was in financial difficulty. She has only a few choices for employment. Agnes experiences the difficulty of reining in spoiled children and how wealth can corrupt morals.

30 review for Anne Brontë: Agnes Grey [contains links to free audiobook]

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Out of all Bronte books Agnes Grey is definitely the one that reads as if written by a pastor's daughter. There is just a very familiar quality to it, a mix of self-righteousness, martyrdom and judgment, characteristic of "Christian" romances (yes, I have read a couple back in the day). Not even once during the course of the novel does Agnes make a mistake and therefore she doesn't evolve, change. She is just the most perfectest creature ever who is mistreated by everyone around her. The beginni Out of all Bronte books Agnes Grey is definitely the one that reads as if written by a pastor's daughter. There is just a very familiar quality to it, a mix of self-righteousness, martyrdom and judgment, characteristic of "Christian" romances (yes, I have read a couple back in the day). Not even once during the course of the novel does Agnes make a mistake and therefore she doesn't evolve, change. She is just the most perfectest creature ever who is mistreated by everyone around her. The beginning part of the novel is particularly jarring in this respect - her never-ending complaints about the family she works for as a governess are annoying. Yes, the kids are spoiled and the parents are ignorant, but Agnes herself has absolutely no experience with kids or teaching and in a dire need of Supernanny's advice. The things are not much better once Agnes moves to her second place of employment. Here, of course, everyone is bad too. (Except the love interest, who is a minister, naturally.) It seems to be Agnes' main purpose to observe and document everyone's follies - from her employees' to fellow servants'. I say enough already. In spite of the whiny voice of the main character and continuous moralizing, the novel is not a complete loss however. Anne Brontë's talent for social critic reveals itself in the latter part of the novel. Her portrayal of naughty Murray sisters is delicious. Dare I say, you can hear the voice of Jane Austen in some of the passages? And how about those spoiled kids who act as if they are serial killers in the making? I can't not give the author credit for writing about that. On the other hand, the romance is a bit of a disappointment. It is nothing like twisted and complex relationships in Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights. It is a tepid affair, culminating in a "passionate" elbow touching. Oh well, it's not a bad first effort. I know The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is much better.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Duane

    It pains me to only give this three stars, mainly because of the tremendous respect I have for what the three Bronte sisters accomplished in their short lives, and because Anne was overshadowed by her older sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Agnes Grey, the first of Anne's two novels (1847), was overshadowed by Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, also published in 1847. But Agnes Grey did two things: one, it gave us insight into Anne's life, her feelings, because it was partly autobiographical, reflecti It pains me to only give this three stars, mainly because of the tremendous respect I have for what the three Bronte sisters accomplished in their short lives, and because Anne was overshadowed by her older sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Agnes Grey, the first of Anne's two novels (1847), was overshadowed by Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, also published in 1847. But Agnes Grey did two things: one, it gave us insight into Anne's life, her feelings, because it was partly autobiographical, reflecting her experience as a governess for several years; and two, it helped Anne to open up her literary potential which she used to write her second novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. While it is lesser known than her older sister's classic masterpieces, it's quality puts it at the same level of excellence in my opinion. The three sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, died at the ages of 38, 31, and 29. It staggers the mind to think what they may have accomplished if they had lived another 25 or 30 years. But what they did accomplish was literary immortality, all three of them, and for that I say thank you ladies, well done.

  3. 4 out of 5

    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. The father, Richard, lost his money in a bad investment, his ship didn't come in, it sank, worse yet, he owe 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. The father, Richard, lost his money in a bad investment, his 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, prolonged 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 her house, 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 invariably kindhearted Miss Grey, is powerless to prevent such cruelties, Mrs. Bloomfield, (doesn't care) and 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, yet 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, her tomboyish younger sister, Matilda, she would rather ride her horses, than dress up for dances. Her only happiness is the curate, she Agnes, had met, Edward Weston, while visiting a sick old woman, still the plain looking girl, knows her limitations. Soon silly Rosalie, with much encouragement from 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, no words were necessary... they knew what each felt...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    "... for nothing can be taught to any purpose without some little exertion on the part of the learner." So here we are, finding consolation in reading about the reality of schooling in a novel published almost two centuries ago. That quote is true, my dear Agnes alias Anne. And how come we still don't quote you on each curriculum, on each report card, on each test result? Well, that is because you let your governess alter ego discover the other eternal truth as well, known to teachers of all curr "... for nothing can be taught to any purpose without some little exertion on the part of the learner." So here we are, finding consolation in reading about the reality of schooling in a novel published almost two centuries ago. That quote is true, my dear Agnes alias Anne. And how come we still don't quote you on each curriculum, on each report card, on each test result? Well, that is because you let your governess alter ego discover the other eternal truth as well, known to teachers of all curricula: namely that many parents may CLAIM to want to hear the truth about their children, and they may CLAIM to want them to learn and work studiously, but in reality, what they want to hear is praise of their offspring's unique genius, and they also want to be spared the parental effort it takes to instil respect and love of learning in their children - which is contrary to their natural desire to feel superior to the person assigned to take care of the schooling. Being a governess in upper class Victorian England might sound like a completely different work experience when we compare it to being a school teacher in contemporary Sweden, but it is not. Where effort is avoided, and students are indulged to avoid short term tantrums and conflicts, the exact same situation occurs. A teacher trying to commit to a calling, a profession, will always be the first target for self-involved parents without true inclination for genuine education. Targeting the children is too close to self-criticism. What I learned - yet again - from reading Agnes Grey is that human nature is the same over time and space, and that change can only happen on an individual, voluntary level. Parenting matters, more than anything else in the world. The ideas we give our children on how to treat our fellow human beings, and on how to approach the privilege of being educated and well cared for, still make all the difference for their development. Tell students that the teacher is inferior to their parents and should be treated like a servant, and nothing the teacher teaches the students will be judged worth knowing. Tell them, on the other hand, that learning is the magical gate towards a self-determined and independent life, and that the teacher holds the key to the gate, - and the children will be sponges soaking up whatever knowledge they can collect. It is all about the mindset we give our children. On the sidelines of the main social issue - the hardship of young educated women trying to succeed in the teaching profession - Agnes Grey manages to describe another ordeal of vulnerable female characters: the marrying business. One might get the notion that a woman can only choose between Scylla and Charybdis when making her path between the inhumane treatment of governesses and the eternal unhappiness following a conventional loveless marriage. Had the youngest Brontë sister lived longer, she might have found a third path for herself - that of a successful writer. As it is, she remains forever contemporary in her honest and critical assessment of social injustice in her own time, based on firsthand experience and accurate rendering of basic psychological structures in upper class parenting. Is it making me feel hope or despair to realise that there never were any good ol' times? I don't know. I think it makes me feel hope that ANY society, no matter how dysfunctional and discriminating, can occasionally see the rise of brave and independent spirits like Agnes/Anne who dare to speak up for change. To be the change. To say and act on what is true: "... for nothing can be taught to any purpose without some little exertion on the part of the learner."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë Agnes Grey, A Novel is the debut novel of English author Anne Brontë. The novel follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works within families of the English gentry. Scholarship and comments by Anne's sister Charlotte Brontë suggest the novel is largely based on Anne Brontë's own experiences as a governess for five years. Agnes Grey is the daughter of Mr. Grey, a minister of modest means, and Mrs. Grey, a woman who left her wealthy family and married purely out of love. Mr Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë Agnes Grey, A Novel is the debut novel of English author Anne Brontë. The novel follows Agnes Grey, a governess, as she works within families of the English gentry. Scholarship and comments by Anne's sister Charlotte Brontë suggest the novel is largely based on Anne Brontë's own experiences as a governess for five years. Agnes Grey is the daughter of Mr. Grey, a minister of modest means, and Mrs. Grey, a woman who left her wealthy family and married purely out of love. Mr. Grey tries to increase the family's financial standing, but the merchant he entrusts his money to dies in a wreck, and the lost investment plunges the family into debt. Agnes, her sister Mary, and their mother all try to keep expenses low and bring in extra money, but Agnes is frustrated that everyone treats her like a child. To prove herself and to earn money, she is determined to get a position as a governess. Eventually, she obtains a recommendation from a well-placed acquaintance, is offered a position, and secures her parents' permission. With some misgivings, she travels to Wellwood house to work for the Bloomfield family. ... تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوازدهم ماه آگوست سال 2014 میلادی عنوان: اگنس گری ؛ نویسنده: آن برونته؛ مترجم: افسانه وفا؛ ویراستار: ارسلان فقیهی؛ تهران، آفرینگان، 1380؛ در 280ص؛ شابک 9649021779؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان بریتانیایی - سده 19م عنوان: اگنس گری ؛ نویسنده: آن برونته؛ مترجم: رضا رضایی؛ تهران : نشر نی، ‏‫1391؛ در 259ص؛ شابک: 9789641852773؛ چاپ دوم 1393؛ چاپ سوم 1395؛ چاپ چهارم 1396؛‬ چاپ چنجم 1397؛ نقل از متن ترجمه جناب رضایی: «فصل یک: خانه کشیشی؛ سرگذشتهای واقعی همه گنجینه ی پند و عبرتند، منتها در بعضی از سرگذشتها پیدا کردن این گنجینه خیلی زحمت دارد، و تازه، پیدا هم که میشود، نتیجه ی آن قدر ناچیز و خالی از کار درمیآید که آدم میبیند اصلاً به زحمتش نمیارزیده؛ من صلاحیت ندارم که بگویم سرگذشت من از این نوع است یا نه؛ گاهی فکر میکنم شاید به درد عده ای بخورد، و عده ای هم شاید سرشان با آن گرم شود؛ به هرحال، ناشناختگی، دلگرم به گذر سالها، و با کمک چند اسم ساختگی، ترس و دلهره را کنار گذاشته ام، و میخواهم رک و صریح، چیزهایی را برای همه تعریف کنم، که حتی به صمیمی ترین دوستم، حاضر نیستم بگویم؛ پدرم کشیشی بود اهل شمال انگلستان، و بحق مورد احترام همه ی کسانی که او را میشناختند؛ در سالهای جوانی با مقرری مختصر کشیشی، و ملک کوچک دنجش زندگی نسبتا راحتی داشت؛ مادرم، که برخلاف آرزوی دوستان و نزدیکانش زن او شده بود، دختر یک ملاّک بود، و خیلی هم با دل و جرئت؛ به او گفته بودند که اگر زن آن کشیش بی چیز بشود، باید از خیر کالسکه و خدمتکار خود بگذرد، همین طور تجملات و زرق و برقهای رفاه و آسایش، که برای او دست کمی از ضروریات زندگی نداشت؛ اما همه این حرفهایی که به او میزدند بیفایده بود؛ کالسکه و خدمتکار البته مایه آسایش و راحتی بودند، اما شکر خدا مادرم دوتا پا داشت، که با آنها هرجا میخواست میرفت، و دوتا هم دست که با آنها کارهای لازم را پیش میبرد؛ خانه مجلل با باغ و محوطه بزرگ، چیزی نبود که آدم از آن بدش بیاید، ولی مادرم حاضر بود در کلبه ای کوچک با ریچارد گرِی زندگی کند اما در قصری بزرگ با هیچ مرد دیگر عالم زندگی نکند؛ پدرش، بعد از کلی جرّ و بحث بی نتیجه، بالاخره به عاشق و معشوق گفت اگر میخواهند با هم ازدواج کنند حرفی ندارد، اما دخترش را از تمام ثروتش محروم خواهد کرد؛ فکر میکرد به این ترتیب آتش عشق و علاقه هر دو نفر فروکش میکند، اما اشتباه میکرد. پدرم به حدی قدر مادرم را میدانست که میفهمید او وجودش یعنی ثروت؛ اگر کلبه محقرش را با قدومش روشن میکرد، با کمال میل با هر شرایطی شوهرش میشد؛ مادرم هم حاضر بود با دستهای خودش همه کارها را انجام بدهد اما از مرد محبوبش دور نباشد، مردی که سعادتش سعادت او بود و جسم و روحش با او یکی. به این ترتیب، ثروتش رفت به جیب خواهری که عاقلتر بود و با تازه به دوران رسیده ای ازدواج کرده بود، که از هند برگشته بود؛ مادرم در میان حیرت و دلسوزی همه کسانیکه او را میشناختند، رفت خودش را دفن کرد، در خانه ی محقر کشیش دهکده ای در میان تپه های ناحیه؛ با اینحال، به رغم همه ی این مسائل، و به رغم دل و جرئتی که مادرم از خودش نشان داد و بیعقلیهایی که پدرم مرتکب شد، بله، با همه اینها، به نظرم اگر کل انگلستان را زیر و رو میکردید بعید بود زوجی خوشبختتر از این دو نفر پیدا کنید؛ از شش تا بچه، فقط من و خواهرم مری از خطرات نوزادی و طفولیت جان به در بردیم. من که پنج شش سال از مری کوچکتر بودم، همیشه بچه به حساب میآمدم و عزیز دردانه ی خانواده بودم؛ پدر و مادر و خواهرم بدعادتم میکردند، نه با لوس کردنهای احمقانه ای که بداخلاق و سرکشم کند، بلکه با محبت کردنهای بی وقفه ای که دست و پاچلفتی و وابسته ام میکرد و نمیگذاشت آماده بشوم که با دغدغه ها و تلاطمهای زندگی در بیفتم؛ من و مری در انزوای کامل بزرگ شدیم؛ مادرم که فضل و سوادی داشت و به انواع هنرها آراسته بود، و درعین حال آدمی نبود که بیکار بنشیند، تعلیم و تربیت ما را خودش به عهده گرفت؛ همه چیز به ما یاد میداد، جز زبان لاتینی، که این یکی را پدرم به عهده گرفته بود؛ به این ترتیب، ما حتی مدرسه هم نرفتیم. و چون هیچ مجلس و محفلی هم دور و بر ما نبود، کل معاشرتی که با عالم و آدم داشتیم خلاصه میشد به مهمانی عصرانه رسمی و سنگین و رنگینی که گاهی با حضور مزرعه دارها و کسبه اصلی ناحیه برگزار میشد تا پشت سرمان حرف درنیاورن،د که دماغمان را بالا میگیریم و با دور و بریها اختلاط نمیکنیم. سالی یکبار میرفتیم منزل پدربزرگ پدریمان؛ اما در آنجا هم تنها کسانی که میدیدیم خود پدربزرگمان بود با مادر بزرگ مهربانمان و عمه ترشیده مان؛ گاهی مادرم برای ما داستانها و حکایتهای جالبی از جوانیهایش میگفت که حسابی سرمان با آنها گرم میشد، اما بعضی وقتها هم میل گنگ و مبهمی ایجاد میکرد (لااقل در من) برای دیدن چیزهای بیشتر؛ فکر میکردم که لابد خیلی خوش بود، اما هیچوقت به نظرم نرسید که افسوس گذشته ها را خورده باشد؛ با اینحال، پدرم که ذاتا ساکت و آرام بود، نه پرحرف و شلوغ، خیلی وقتها بیخود و بیجهت خودش را میخورد و به این فکر میکرد که همسر عزیزش به خاطر او از چه چیزهایی چشم پوشیده؛ مدام به ذهن خودش فشار میآورد و محض خاطر مادرم و ما بچه ها نقشه های مختلفی برای افزایش دادن مال و اموال مختصرش میکشید؛ مادرم همه اش میگفت از زندگیش خیلی راضی است، اما فایده نداشت، و پدرم کوتاه نمیآمد؛ مادرم به او میگفت که اگر فقط کمی برای بچه ها کنار بگذارد برای همه کفایت میکند، چه حالا و چه در آینده؛ اما پدرم اصلاً اهل پس انداز نبود. البته بدهی بالا نمیآورد (لااقل مادر حواسش بود که این طور نشود)، ولی پدرم پول توی جیبش بند نمیشد و خرج میکرد؛ دوست داشت خانه و کاشانه اش راحت باشد، و همسر و دخترهایش خوب بپوشند و سرشان را بالا بگیرند؛ درعین حال، آدم خیری بود و دوست داشت در حد وُسع خودش، یا به قول عده ای خارج از حد وُسع خودش، به آدمهای بیچیز کمک کند؛ بالاخره، روزی دوست شفیقی به او گفت چه طور میتواند دارایی اش را یکشبه دو برابر کند، و بعد هم باز دو برابرش کند، تا بالاخره سر به فلک بکشد؛ این دوست شفیق پدرم تاجر بود، مرد خوش روحیه ای که استعداد بیچون و چرایی داشت؛ به علت کمبود سرمایه دستش در تجارت بسته بود، اما در عوض دلش باز بود و با سخاوت بینظیری میخواست پدرم را در سود تجارتش شریک کند، فقط به این شرط که هرچه پس انداز کرده، به او بسپارد؛ قول صددرصد هم میداد که هر مبلغی که پدرم در اختیارش بگذارد، با سود صددرصد به او برمیگرداند. اموال مختصر پدری به سرعت فروخته شد و کل مبلغ به کف باکفایت تاجر شفیق سپرده شد؛ او هم بلافاصله بارش را بست و آماده سفر دریایی شد؛ پدرم خوشحال بود؛ ما هم از فکر آینده تابناکمان خوشحال بودیم؛ البته عجالتا قناعت کرده بودیم به عواید ناچیز وظایف کشیشی، اما پدرم فکر میکرد لازم نیست زیاد هم سخت بگیریم و از خرجمان بزنیم تا مساوی دخلمان بشود؛ به این ترتیب، با خریدهای نسیه از مغازه آقای جکسن، و همین طور مغازه اسمیت و مغازه هابسن، اموراتمان راحت میگذشت، حتی راحتتر از قبل. البته مادرم میگفت که بهتر است پایمان را از گلیممان درازتر نکنیم، چون به ثروت آینده نمیشد مطمئنِ مطمئن بود؛ میگفت پدرم اگر کارها را به او بسپارد وضعی پیش نمیآید که به او سخت بگذرد؛ اما، در این مورد خاص، پدرم اصلاح ناپذیر بود؛ من و مری چه روزهای خوشی را سپری میکردیم؛ با وسایل خیاطیمان کنار بخاری مینشستیم، یا وسط تپه های بوته زار میپلکیدیم، یا پای درخت بیدمجنون (که تنها درخت درست و حسابی باغ بود) ول میگشتیم، و با خودمان و پدر و مادرمان از خوشبختی آینده حرف میزدیم، از کارهایی که قرار بود بکنیم، جاهایی که قرار بود ببینیم، و چیزهایی که قرار بود بخریم؛ این دنیای جذابی که برای خودمان تصور میکردیم هیچ مبنای محکمی نداشت جز ثروتی که منتظر بودیم بعد از تعبیرشدن آرزوهای تاجر محترم به طرف ما سرازیر بشود؛ پدرمان هم دست کمی از ما نداشت؛ فقط وانمود میکرد که زیاد جدی نمیگیرد؛ امیدهای تابناک و آرزوهای خوش خود را با شوخیها و متلکهایی بیان میکرد که برای من خیلی بامزه و جالب بودند؛ مادرمان که او را این قدر امیدوار و خوشحال میدید از ته دل میخندید، اما باز نگران بود که مبادا پدرمان دلش را زیاد به این قضیه خوش کرده باشد؛ یک روز، موقعی که مادرم از اتاق خارج میشد، شنیدم که زیرلب میگفت: «خدا کند خودش را نبازد! نمیدانم چه طور تحمل میکند.» اما خودش را باخت؛ بدجور هم باخت؛ انگار صاعقه نازل شده باشد، باخبر شدیم که کشتی بخت ما غرق شده و با کل موجودی اش به عمق آب رفته، همینطور چند نفر از خدمه اش، و طفلکی خود تاجر بدشانس. من به خاطر او غصه خوردم. به خاطر فروریختن همه قصرهای خیالیمان هم غصه خوردم، اما به لطف جوانیم خیلی زود از این ضربه کمر راست کردم.»؛ پایان نقل ا. شربیانی

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kalliope

    Having watched recently the film To Walk Invisible, and having also finished not long ago Wuthering Heights, while I was reading this I could not but imagine the two sisters, Emily and Anne, sitting around the same table, either in the dining room or in the kitchen, each leaning over a very small notebook and writing away their novels in silence. Both sharing and not sharing; keeping each other’s company, but also guarding the privacy of their thoughts and their writing from the other sister. And Having watched recently the film To Walk Invisible, and having also finished not long ago Wuthering Heights, while I was reading this I could not but imagine the two sisters, Emily and Anne, sitting around the same table, either in the dining room or in the kitchen, each leaning over a very small notebook and writing away their novels in silence. Both sharing and not sharing; keeping each other’s company, but also guarding the privacy of their thoughts and their writing from the other sister. And I wondered how was it possible that on the same table those two notebooks were filling with such different fiction. How could these two sisters, apparently so similar in character, with the same upbringing and similar experiences, produce such different works. With Emily’s novel made me dread the falling into Hell, while Anne’s account of a governess made me at times wished for a redeeming Hell. Agnes Grey is a governess to her very core. Not one does she lose her, very proper, identity. Even in moments of weakness, she does not doubt for an instance her exemplary view of the world. For even if she is very convincing in her neutrality and perfection--that stands out against the rest of the, always faulty, characters--, the reader can at times question whether things, or people, are as outlandish as she presents them to be. I acknowledge that I felt at times like sticking my tongue out at Agnes in a purifying act of rebellion. May be it was the language, always so composed, so correct, so balanced, so measured, so poised, that made me want to scream, or swear, or run away. There was one moment in which I had some hope. In a scene I felt that finally Agnes could feel some spite. But no, she immediately corrected the suspicion and states that: I derived a secret gratification from the fact, not that she was vexed, but that she thought she had reason to be so. Definitely, no hope, for she continues: It made me think my hopes were not entirely the offspring of my wishes and imagination. This non-novel, is nonetheless an extraordinary account of what a curious creature of a governess, in mid 19C England, was. While reading it was inevitable not to ponder about the restricted world for women, and how at this time they needed to fit in a necessary but also potentially alarming education. The account is also saturated with comments on social differences, which made me wonder how conscious was Anne Brönte of the political dimension of some of her sentences. It was disagreeable to walk behind, and thus appear to acknowledge my own inferiority; for, in truth, I considered myself pretty nearly as good as the best of them, and wished them to know that I did so, and not to imagine that I looked upon myself as a mere domestic, who know her own place to walk beside such fine ladies and gentlemen as they were. . And soon onto The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hannah Greendale

    Aside from the fact that Agnes Grey's love interest chides her for being a "perfect bookworm" and says, "Except under particular circumstances, I consider very close and constant study as a waste of time, and an injury to the mind as well as the body," this is a sweet and tender love story.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Piyangie

    Agnes Grey is Anne Bronte’s first attempt at a novel. It is partly autobiographic. Young Anne Bronte worked as a governess with a view to support her family. Her time as a governess made her see the precarious position of a governess; they were not servants and nor of the family. This made both quarters at a loss as how to treat a governess. Anne’s time as a governess were filled with bitter experiences and it is not surprising that at Anne’s first attempt at writing that she should bring a fe Agnes Grey is Anne Bronte’s first attempt at a novel. It is partly autobiographic. Young Anne Bronte worked as a governess with a view to support her family. Her time as a governess made her see the precarious position of a governess; they were not servants and nor of the family. This made both quarters at a loss as how to treat a governess. Anne’s time as a governess were filled with bitter experiences and it is not surprising that at Anne’s first attempt at writing that she should bring a female protagonist (Agnes) who undergoes a similar fate as her as a governess. Charlotte Bronte in her “Biographical notice of Ellis and Acton Bell, 1850” stated that “hers (Anne’s) was naturally a sensitive, reserved and dejected nature; what she saw sank very deeply into her mind; it did her harm. She brooded over it till she believed it a duty to reproduce every detail (of course with fictitious characters, incidents, and situations)…”. While Charlotte thought that Anne’s personal experiences and observations did her harm, I think they helped her produce two great literary works which served to convey strong messages to the Victorian society. The main reason Anne wanted to write the novel was to bring to the light the many difficulties, indignities, discriminations a governess faces while carrying out their duties. She wanted the society to know them, to view things from a governess’s point of view. It is said that many society ladies of the day have expressed their wishes to treat their governesses differently after reading the book. This in itself is the reward for her labours. This shows how successful her story was. As the title implies, the story of Agnes Grey is focused on the protagonist, Agnes Grey, who is also the narrator of the story. The story flows from Agnes’s childhood to her position as governess and teacher to her marriage and motherhood. If you take the story itself, it is a very simple one. One cannot even say it is an exciting story, except perhaps towards the end. Yet the story binds you with such power that you cannot put it down. It draws you in with its honesty and earnestness. Agnes is not perfect; she has her goodness and many weaknesses. She honestly bares her life to the reader without reservation or justification. This quality in narration makes the readers like Agnes. They can sympathize with her and also empathize with her. Anne’s character employment is clever; the supporting characters she employs in the story helps to bring out and develop the character of Agnes. This is so successfully done, for even if you don’t like Agnes at the beginning, she slowly grows on you, and you end up liking her. Anne’s writing is beautiful. It may not have the imagination of Emily or the passionate ranting of Charlotte, but there is an earnestness, a truthfulness, a boldness and a tranquility. It is her writing that captures me. This is not to say that I don’t like the writing of Emily or Charlotte, but Anne’s writing is special. It is one of the reasons, among other things, that Anne has become my favourite Bronte. Also I feel Anne’s style is more Austenian, following the writing of the Regency period. Her subject matter is essentially Victorian, but the gravity of Victorian writing is absent from her work. Instead she has adopted the light and beautiful writing of the preceding Regency period. Agnes Grey is a sensitive story, just like Anne’s other novel The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall . I love this sensitivity, and I love Anne for her sensitivity. The read was interesting and engaging. I enjoyed it. It is a pity that such a talent was taken away at a young age of thirty before her potentials could be fully realized. However, for her limited life she gifted two great works to the literary world. And we readers will forever be grateful for her for her literary contribution.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    4.5 stars I’ve been conscious for a while of not having read anything by Anne Bronte and decided it was time to remedy that. This is Anne Bronte’s first novel and has the reputation of being not as good as the second; however I certainly felt that it had its strengths. The story is straightforward; Agnes Grey is the daughter of a clergyman whose family finds itself is straightened circumstances. Agnes decides she must contribute to the family finances and takes a post of a governess. There is an 4.5 stars I’ve been conscious for a while of not having read anything by Anne Bronte and decided it was time to remedy that. This is Anne Bronte’s first novel and has the reputation of being not as good as the second; however I certainly felt that it had its strengths. The story is straightforward; Agnes Grey is the daughter of a clergyman whose family finds itself is straightened circumstances. Agnes decides she must contribute to the family finances and takes a post of a governess. There is an account of her time as a governess in two families. The account paints a fairly bleak picture of life as a governess and of the role of women of a certain class. This is certainly based on Anne’s own experience, apart from the romance at the end. Anne Bronte has always been seen as a lesser writer than her two sisters; this isn’t my impression. Agnes Grey is a strong minded woman, who very much has a sense of independence, “to go out into the world; to act for myself; to exercise my unused faculties; to try my own unknown powers; to earn my own maintenance”. At the end of the novel when she marries Weston the usual Victorian formula would be that he is rescuing her and providing her with hearth and home. The more perceptive reader will realise that he is not rescuing her, but she is rescuing him. Agnes can be very self-effacing at times and her piety I found somewhat irritating, but she is a much stronger character than many Victorian heroines. . The nature of work that women of Agnes’s type have to do is portrayed as thankless and degrading with cruel employers and children whom are ungovernable and with no respect to someone they treat as a servant. I think Anne’s portrayal of men is very much different to her sisters. There are no smouldering Byronic heroes like Rochester and Heathcliffe. Most of the men are shallow and self-absorbed. Her idea of a leading man is also different; Weston is not heroic or good-looking. He is serious, bookish, kind with obvious faults and vulnerabilities; very unlike the men her sisters created. This makes her books less easy to film; producers like strong male leads! I was surprised to find that Anne Bronte is much more radical than her sisters. She is concerned about the rights and working conditions of women who work in virtual slavery in domestic service and portrays the upper and moneyed classes who employ them as cruel and unscrupulous. Shades of a socialist and feminist approach to life and no swooning over emotionally stunted heroes. Agnes Grey does not need Weston at the end of the book; she is running a school with her mother and they are independent. It is a positive choice. I would urge those of you who have not read Anne Bronte yet to do so.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    My favorite of the Brontes is Anne. This is my favorite of her novels. In this and Jane Eyre, we have governess-eye views of the gentry. In Jane Eyre, Jane manages to make herself central (her suffering in being a governess); in Agnes Grey, there is a meticulous look at the thin veneer of civilization over the soi-disant gentry who have all the money and manner but utterly no moral center. The examination of this family is one of the most effective pieces of quiet horror in literature, I think, b My favorite of the Brontes is Anne. This is my favorite of her novels. In this and Jane Eyre, we have governess-eye views of the gentry. In Jane Eyre, Jane manages to make herself central (her suffering in being a governess); in Agnes Grey, there is a meticulous look at the thin veneer of civilization over the soi-disant gentry who have all the money and manner but utterly no moral center. The examination of this family is one of the most effective pieces of quiet horror in literature, I think, because it resonates as true. Far more effective than Charlotte's madwoman-in-the-attic histrionics. (Though those, too, smack of reality . . . but not a reality known to Charlotte. I blame Byronic fanfiction for that, as well as for Emily's oeuvre, and Anne's own Tenant) Rereading for a book group: again, it strikes me how very good Anne was at observations of human behavior, though a sense of Anne is difficult to find. Agnes Grey is nearly invisible, quite a contrast to Charlotte's books, which convey a powerful sense of Charlotte front and center. (And Emily was different from both, writing straight from the id vortex)

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    Finding myself reading a book about a governess I searched around for comparisons, the only one that came to my mind was Jane Eyre written after Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë's big sister Charlotte. Charlotte in her tale of a governess adds breath taking, astonishing, Gothic elements - childhood punishments, a madwoman in the attic, a dramatic fire, the anguished cry of a lover heard an unfeasible number of miles away, plus liberal anti-French sentiment and race prejudice, Agnes Grey eschews all tha Finding myself reading a book about a governess I searched around for comparisons, the only one that came to my mind was Jane Eyre written after Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë's big sister Charlotte. Charlotte in her tale of a governess adds breath taking, astonishing, Gothic elements - childhood punishments, a madwoman in the attic, a dramatic fire, the anguished cry of a lover heard an unfeasible number of miles away, plus liberal anti-French sentiment and race prejudice, Agnes Grey eschews all that, there is nothing flashy here, it is a carefully observed personal narrative, with a self effacing narrator who dominates the narration - there is no space here to question her observations we are deep inside the world of Agnes Grey, a grey lamb, innocent and doomed to suffer - though her suffering will be not very dramatic - this is above all a restrained novel. The keenness of the narrator's observation seems generally focussed on her status, she hangs awkwardly above the servants but below the masters, unable to command the former or stand up to the latter, but interesting this weak liminal position as a clergyman's daughter turns out to be a position of strength. She can earn money and is not trapped in the closed system of social status and status anxiety of her social superiors that leads them into unhappy marriages (view spoiler)[ the best kind obviously from the point of view of literature (hide spoiler)] . The meeting during a rainstorm of Agnes Grey and her love interest the curate Mr Weston (view spoiler)[ his first name is only mentioned on the last page of the story so I won't spoiler the surprise (hide spoiler)] in the dwelling of local poor woman Nancy reminded me of the quasi marriage of Dido and Aeneas in a cave during a rainstorm witnessed by a convenient goddess. Pius Aeneas is generally a role model for Agnes - she is determined to earn money as a governess in the first place because of the financial difficulties caused by her Father's speculation. So she sets forth to rescue the family, not from a burning city but from their depleted bank balance. For a hero, the Odyssey can always be the model - hero goes forth, wanders, returns home, but for the heroine, returning home is impossible, instead the Aeneid is the role model for her adventures, she has to leave home and create a new one, generally in conjunction with some local man or other, Charlotte Brontë takes this notion of the destruction of the original home and enforced wanderings further by actually killing off the heroine's parents than Anne does, but the younger sister seems to prefer a more restrained style. Amusingly although Agnes is to be an educator in this novel, the action suggests that formal education is too late, children in this book model themselves strictly on their near family, just as Agnes will maintain the good habits and moral outlook of her upbringing so too the children she is employed to educate retain the bad habits and attitudes that they have learnt from their parents. This is a novel featuring education which seems ambivalent about the impact of the classroom upon learners, it seems mostly too late to do anything about the children of the rich who are doomed to idleness, animal cruelty, bad marriages and an inability to perceive people of lower social standing as being human, plus ça change. On which topic I was amused that although in the middle of the novel Agnes has a fairly lengthy digression about beauty and that it is unimportant when we are shown the bad husband Sir Thomas Ashby, we see an ugly man - an ugly character will apparently manifest itself physically, Agnes does not describe herself, but we see her good deeds, even if she does admit to wanting to box the ears of the vicious boy she is meant to be teaching in her first job.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chrissie

    Anne Brontë is without doubt my favorite of the three Brontë sisters. Agnes is the narrator and central protagonist of this story. She is the younger of two daughters in a loving family. Her father, a parson, has lost family savings through unwise speculation. He is by nature too trusting, too believing in the goodness of man. His wife and daughters continue to love and support him. Agnes, determined to never become a burden to her family, looks for a position as a governess. So why do I like this Anne Brontë is without doubt my favorite of the three Brontë sisters. Agnes is the narrator and central protagonist of this story. She is the younger of two daughters in a loving family. Her father, a parson, has lost family savings through unwise speculation. He is by nature too trusting, too believing in the goodness of man. His wife and daughters continue to love and support him. Agnes, determined to never become a burden to her family, looks for a position as a governess. So why do I like this novel as much as I do? The prose, the character portrayal and how the love story is drawn. I knew half-way through I could not give the book a rating less than three stars. At this point I was unsure of how the plot-line would be handled but felt that the writing was superb. The writing is articulate and succinct. Sentiments and thoughts are extremely well expressed. There is a fluidity in the prose that fits each situation--varying from lyrical description of landscapes, to thoughtful, philosophical reasoning, to perceptive descriptions of feelings and finally realistic dialogs. Conversations mirror each character’s personality. In my view the book is worth reading for the prose alone. There is a love thread, but it Is not allowed to strangle the novel. It never descends into drippy romanticism. Th characters are each who they are. I love Agnes’ dignity. She is neither proud nor self-demeaning. The coquetry and flirtatious behavior of another character is equally well drawn. This is a novel of its time. I value and applaud the author’s ability to draw different types of women. I like that the author promotes the strength and dignity of women while at the same time stressing the importance of love as the basis for a good marriage. Anne Brontë’s writing is realistic. Emilia Fox narrates the audiobook. The narration performance is fine. I have given it three stars. Although she speaks quickly, every word can easily be heard. It flows well. I dislike that some of the male characters are distinguished as being powerful and in charge through yelling. Here the volume is increased to an unpleasant level. ********************** Charlotte Brontë: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman 3 stars Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 2 stars The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë 4 stars Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë 4 stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Luís

    This book draws from the author's own experience as a governess in the first half of the 19th century. It is a world where a distance of two miles is considered far and makes daily visits practically impossible. A range of 80 miles is a day's journey. In this confined world, everyone knows and observes one's neighbours. Young Agnes, the protagonist of the book, leaves her close-knit family to work as a governess. With an astonishing amount of patience, she does her best to teach the spoiled chil This book draws from the author's own experience as a governess in the first half of the 19th century. It is a world where a distance of two miles is considered far and makes daily visits practically impossible. A range of 80 miles is a day's journey. In this confined world, everyone knows and observes one's neighbours. Young Agnes, the protagonist of the book, leaves her close-knit family to work as a governess. With an astonishing amount of patience, she does her best to teach the spoiled children of wealthy families. She's closely watched by their parents, who point out every mistake in their children's behaviour but give Agnes no authority over them. Agnes Grey is not a book with a breathtaking plot, but it is a quiet read that provides a peaceful world into which one can withdraw after the day's work done. (Don't read that book in the subway. It won't work.) You'll find this 19th-century illusion of a kind, quiet and regular life in this book: Regular mealtimes, a peaceful family life, polite behaviour and speech, regular Sunday services, sound morality. It is a refreshing contrast to modern life. At the same time, the book tells a widow's story who is thriving as a freelancer, in those times. So if you are looking for inspiration, this book might be for you. It is interesting to observe how this freelancer acquires customers in yesterday's world, and what her working life is relatable. There is also a love story. It is, as can be expected from such a book, a hushed, peaceful and decent love story. And the end won't be revealed until the very last chapter of the book. And the best of it: When putting this book down, I think you will be relieved that you've come back from a world where every word, every look cautiously observed and assessed and where everything you do or say can be held against you forever. You're back to reality, and if you feel like it, you can swear loudly and bang your fist on the table as you do so. (Please wait until I've left the scene.)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Antão

    If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Juxtaposing of Characters: "Agnes Grey" by Anne Brontë (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." If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review. Juxtaposing of Characters: "Agnes Grey" by Anne Brontë (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."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    Agnes is in desperate need of a visit from Nanny McPhee and I am in desperate need of a Mr Weston. Utterly charming. Anne’s sharp sardonic wit and waspish humour is so compelling. Agnes Grey perfectly encapsulates the horror of a first job - or my first job, anyway. In theory, this could be satire... were it not for the very real situations Anne depicts. This is ruthless realism; her exposé was an explosive truth that no one wanted to tell - or hear. “Agnes Grey is a sort of younger sister to Jan Agnes is in desperate need of a visit from Nanny McPhee and I am in desperate need of a Mr Weston. Utterly charming. Anne’s sharp sardonic wit and waspish humour is so compelling. Agnes Grey perfectly encapsulates the horror of a first job - or my first job, anyway. In theory, this could be satire... were it not for the very real situations Anne depicts. This is ruthless realism; her exposé was an explosive truth that no one wanted to tell - or hear. “Agnes Grey is a sort of younger sister to Jane Eyre; but inferior in every way” said one reviewer, crushingly. I need to rectify this: what very few people know is that Anne had covered the whole governessing, female self-determination thing way before Charlotte. Agnes Grey had been accepted for publication before Jane Eyre was even completed - Charlotte was still toiling away with her Charlotte/Monsieur Heger fanfiction that no one wanted to publish, AKA: The Professor. And yet Jane Eyre is remembered as the governess novel. Why? The simple reason is that Jane Eyre beat Agnes Grey to the press. The Brontë sisters sent their three respective debuts to publishers all in the same bundle, receiving rejection after rejection until one fateful day, both Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights were accepted by Thomas Cautley Newby - The Professor, however, was sent straight back. What should of been a triumph for Anne turned out to be less than perfect. The thing was, Newby was a bit of a chancer. He liked to procrastinate. During the lengthy wait for the dynamic duo to appear on the shelves, Charlotte had produced Jane Eyre, a novel whose core elements must have seemed very familiar to Anne; a plain, governess heroine, the daughter of a poor clergyman, finds love on her own terms - all communicated through an immediate and self conscious first person narrative. Hmm. Oh, Charlotte. How could you? Regardless of the fact Charlotte had none too subtly used Anne’s work as a template, Jane Eyre was promptly accepted by a different publisher, Smith, Elder & Co. It was out within a month and met with immediate success. By this time, Newby was still dragging his heels, but when news reached him of Currer Bell’s (Charlotte’s) success, he recognised that he had in his possession two novels by the esteemed author’s brothers, Ellis and Acton - there was some serious money to be made. Finally the books were out - just five months late. Now Anne looked the imitator when she was in fact the pioneer. Of course, Jane Eyre was a highly romanticised and skewed interpretation of the precarious position of governess (although I do love it, regardless). Agnes Grey is highly autobiographical; sixty instances alone have been identified as being directly drawn from Anne’s own six years experience of the profession. She refused to wear rose-tinted glasses - being the social firebrand that she was, her purpose was reform. Agnes Grey is a deliberate attack of the disparity between the education of boys and girls and its consequences. Girls weren’t prepared for life, nor warned about the dangers of bad men. Even within these 200ish pages, Anne was already hinting at deeply controversial topics like marital abuse that she would later develop into her darker work, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (highly recommend, absolute masterpiece - see my thoughts here ). Critics however neglected to acknowledge her astute political engagement, asserting that her depiction of corrupt upper class morals and violent, beastly children was simply too monstrous to be true. Instead, they favoured Charlotte’s depiction: more Charlotte/Monsieur Heger fanfiction... but a slightly more coded version. Which is ridiculous - Charlotte hated governessing and couldn’t manage it for more than eight months; Anne was the one who bit the bullet and endured. (Anne was the only of the four Brontës who managed to pin down a job, period.) On one occasion, the children Charlotte tutored even threw a rock at her which cut her badly on the forehead. She knew the crap governesses had to put up with: humiliation, oppression, isolation, bratty children and disrespectful employers. And yet she blesses Jane with one obedient pupil and a brooding, darkly romantic boss who treats her as an equal. I told you it was fanfiction. Don’t get me wrong, Agnes Grey is pretty brutal in places, but it’s a novel that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Why? Two words: Mr Weston. Good old Anne, she gave her heroine a man who is treats women well, who loves and respects her, something that put Anne at odds with her sisters who liked their malevolent Byronic heroes. Mr Weston is a babe and Agnes is at her most endearing when she’s falling for him. He’s full of common sense and genuine affection... and he likes cats. (He even saves a cat at one point, a plot device that is so reliable at making a character likeable, there’s even a book about it: Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need.) Agnes Grey has a healthy and wholesome romance between two decent people who love, respect and cherish each other. Need I say more?!! An exceptionally underrated book - and I don’t think the copious editions with grotesque covers really do it any favours, either. A historically fascinating novel that already hints at some of those radical views Anne was brewing up ready for The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, views that were years before her time - but a beautiful, beautiful story and a thoroughly moving romance besides.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Umut Rados

    This was a weird one really. It won't be my favourite Bronte and not among my favourite Victorian reads for sure. Actually it started really well. I loved hte coming of age beginning in the book for Agnes Grey and I thought we ventured on some adventures by the time she decided to become a governess. But, after that it went downhill really. I don't understand why we spent so much time for the first house with the wicked children. Then onto another one with other spoiled girls and Agnes' inabilit This was a weird one really. It won't be my favourite Bronte and not among my favourite Victorian reads for sure. Actually it started really well. I loved hte coming of age beginning in the book for Agnes Grey and I thought we ventured on some adventures by the time she decided to become a governess. But, after that it went downhill really. I don't understand why we spent so much time for the first house with the wicked children. Then onto another one with other spoiled girls and Agnes' inability to deal with all these. I didn't enjoy Mr. Weston and the sort of development of the 'romance' between these two, too. The book had an autobiographical feel to it, and I think it only works when the person is interesting. And I'm sorry to say Agnes isn't all that interesting. I understand there's lots of commentary around class differences, religion, etc. But, it's not written in an entertaining manner. Overall it felt a bit choppy, ordinary and bland. It wasn't a bad read, but I didn't have the best time either, so I'll settle on 3 stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    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 upchu 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?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tammie

    Out of all the Brontë sisters, Anne is definitely my favorite writer. I throughly enjoyed Agnes Grey and I adored The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The book centers around Agnes Grey. Agnes is the youngest daughter of a minister and much of the story details her exploits as a governess (a position she took to help her family out financially). Agnes Grey is what I call “a slow but thoughtful read”-it’s not full of exciting adventures but it is a well-written and interesting book that kept me engaged t Out of all the Brontë sisters, Anne is definitely my favorite writer. I throughly enjoyed Agnes Grey and I adored The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. The book centers around Agnes Grey. Agnes is the youngest daughter of a minister and much of the story details her exploits as a governess (a position she took to help her family out financially). Agnes Grey is what I call “a slow but thoughtful read”-it’s not full of exciting adventures but it is a well-written and interesting book that kept me engaged throughout. Highly recommend to readers/fans of classic books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roel ✿

    Although Agnes Grey doesn't seem to be cut out for getting placed at the top of any Brontë novel-rankings, I still found it to be stunningly dignified, and a positively charming tale. It has more of a shallow pacing, rather than a regular build-up to a high peak of tension, which is something I haven't seen done in this manner before, but which also made it all the more interesting to me. "When we hear a little good and no harm of a person, it is easy and pleasant to imagine more." The story f Although Agnes Grey doesn't seem to be cut out for getting placed at the top of any Brontë novel-rankings, I still found it to be stunningly dignified, and a positively charming tale. It has more of a shallow pacing, rather than a regular build-up to a high peak of tension, which is something I haven't seen done in this manner before, but which also made it all the more interesting to me. "When we hear a little good and no harm of a person, it is easy and pleasant to imagine more." The story follows Agnes, a well-educated eighteen-year-old that takes on a job as a governess in order to earn some money to support her family. The reader is swept away with Agnes as she spends years striving to cultivate the minds of children rendered unteachable by their own parents — all the while staying true to her own notions and morals. As well as zooming in on the ill-treatment of governesses in the Victorian era, Agnes Grey also explores themes such as social issues and morality, turning Brontë's story into a decidedly simple tale of rewarded virtue. I found this book to be lacking the passion and high-running emotions that other Brontë novels seem to have, but I'm not here to compare. It took me by surprise how quiet and nuanced the narrative is, but it still paints a clear picture of the trials and tribulations of life as a governess in the 19th century; it did what it came to do. "You think, because I always do as you bid me, I have no judgement of my own: but only try me — that is all I ask — and you shall see what I can do." The main character drew me in and kept me hooked on the plot. Agnes slowly comes out of her shell as she learns to deal with the constant exclusion and oppression she faces while residing at the Murray household. According to her pupils (and the rest of town), Agnes can do no right, which made it such a journey to be able to see into her mind and keep tabs on her thoughts and inner voices. Mr. Weston only showing up as the love interest after enough time has been spent making sure Miss Grey feels like a sufficiently fleshed-out character contributed to the connection I felt to the latter. "And why should he interest himself at all in my moral and intellectual capacities: what is it to him what I think or feel?" I asked myself. And my heart throbbed in answer to the question. This book was written as a semi-autobiographical novel, which becomes clear quick enough. The parallels Brontë draws between her own life and that of her fictional character result in prose lacking confidence — a lot of time is spent explaining away time jumps and lack of detail with claims that the missing information won't be interesting to the reader. [Anne Brontë, if your ghost is reading this: I would have read three times this page count if it meant you'd have filled in the blanks!] Overall, there was a lot to take away from this book. It felt very rewarding to get through Agnes Grey with all its quotable paragraphs. I'm very excited to get my hands on The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! "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." --------------- Additional Notes: - Anne Brontë really went ahead and referred to some unimportant gentlemen as 'Captain Somebody' and 'Lieutenant Somebody else' WOW the power. The POWER

  20. 5 out of 5

    Iryna *Book and Sword*

    4/5 stars “One bright day in the last week of February, I was walking in the park, enjoying the threefold luxury of solitude, a book, and pleasant weather.” By reading Agnes Grey I've sufficiently accomplished my goal of reading a book from each sister. Despite many similarities in sisters' writing and the messages that they are portraying - the three of them are also very different. The first sister I had the pleasure of reading was Emily, and it's easy to assume that she was the risk taker of th 4/5 stars “One bright day in the last week of February, I was walking in the park, enjoying the threefold luxury of solitude, a book, and pleasant weather.” By reading Agnes Grey I've sufficiently accomplished my goal of reading a book from each sister. Despite many similarities in sisters' writing and the messages that they are portraying - the three of them are also very different. The first sister I had the pleasure of reading was Emily, and it's easy to assume that she was the risk taker of the written word. She embraced the wildness of the moors and the madness of true love, she let her imagination run untamed and her emotions unchecked. All of those qualities created a painful, but also very beautiful masterpiece of Wuthering Heights. Charlotte, while not shying away from the madness of love either, focused more on the resilience of human spirit and how ones principles get them through all trials. Jane Eyre was full of surprises as we watched her bravely walk through her hardships and onto the unexpected path of love, that in the end was a saving grace for both her, and her beloved. Anne's writing is definitely the most polished of them all. Her sentences are carefully constructed and all of the words are picked with a goal in mind. Not once Agnes Grey went out of bonds, not once she fell into her temptations or got lost on the path she was taking, no matter how bleak and gloomy it was. “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.” The hypocrisy level in this book is absolutely hilarious and Agnes handles it all with such cool and stoic exterior, she's such a little sweetheart. But Agnes is not without flaws herself. The whole duration of the book I kept wishing that she would stop caring so much about what her friends thought of her - everything she did, everything she persevered to endure was to keep her face and honor in front of her friends, and to me that just wasn't a good reasoning. I absolutely adored how awkwardly honest Agnes always was, and how she herself always admitted it. “No, thank you, I don't mind the rain,' I said. I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.” Most of the side character will make you blind with rage, especially Rosalie Murray - that girl was so backwards I was surprised she could walk a straight line. The novel portrays very well how riches and negligence will make anyone rotten spoiled and how amidst all of that those who have their principles in check will persevere no matter the trials. ​While not as emotional as works of her sisters, Anne Bronte's Agnes Grey is an excellent quick read - if the simple plot doesn't do you well, then read it simply for the excellence and brilliance of writing. My WEBSITE My INSTAGRAM My WORDPRESS BLOG

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andra

    I loved it. I read it in one sitting. To whoever believes that Anne is the weakest of the Brontë sisters, I ask you to read Agnes Grey.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    This is the kind of romance that I enjoy. Agnes Grey must be one of my favorite literary females. She's the type of role model who's not unrealistically perfect, but has developed virtues that make her a very worthy character. The book is certainly far from exciting or "passionate," but it has plenty of solid themes and lessons for young girls to learn from. It shows how the temporary pleasures of flirting are entirely fleeting, but the constant modesty and dependence on God is rewarded with tru This is the kind of romance that I enjoy. Agnes Grey must be one of my favorite literary females. She's the type of role model who's not unrealistically perfect, but has developed virtues that make her a very worthy character. The book is certainly far from exciting or "passionate," but it has plenty of solid themes and lessons for young girls to learn from. It shows how the temporary pleasures of flirting are entirely fleeting, but the constant modesty and dependence on God is rewarded with true happiness in the end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I hoped, that with the brave and strong, My portioned task might lie; To toil amid the busy throng, With purpose pure and high. (by Anne Brontë) Though Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Brontë's most popular novel, she is also remembered primarily for her verse. Being published at the tail end of her sister Emily's Wuthering Heights, this quiet novel by Anne Brontë was barely noticed by the critics. Yet there is something about her gentle prose that lures me. Charlotte Brontë said this about her siste I hoped, that with the brave and strong, My portioned task might lie; To toil amid the busy throng, With purpose pure and high. (by Anne Brontë) Though Tenant of Wildfell Hall is Anne Brontë's most popular novel, she is also remembered primarily for her verse. Being published at the tail end of her sister Emily's Wuthering Heights, this quiet novel by Anne Brontë was barely noticed by the critics. Yet there is something about her gentle prose that lures me. Charlotte Brontë said this about her sister, Anne: "Long-suffering, self-denying, reflective, and intelligent, a constitutional reserve and taciturnity placed and kept her in the shade, and covered her mind, and especially her feelings, with a sort of nun-like veil, which was rarely lifted." It is almost as if Anne took parts of herself and created Agnes Grey. In simplistic, undulating prose, loneliness and self-examination is depicted through Agnes' first-person diary recollections. You can always count on the Victorian female to allude to feminism on an existential level. With her gutsy decision to leave home at nineteen in order to gain her independence and possibly donate some funds to her dying father, Agnes won me over because this was not a position she was forced into. In fact, her family wanted her to stay at home. I flattered myself I was benefitting my parents and sister by my continuance here; for, small as the salary was, I still was earning something, and, with strict economy, I could easily manage to have something to spare for them, if they would favour me by taking it. Then, it was by my own will that I had got the place, I had brought all this tribulation on myself…I did not even regret the step I had taken, and I longed to show my friends that even now, I was competent to undertake the charge… Away from home, she is lonely, depressed (so much so that at times her tone comes across as whiny), and despised by the family she works for. What a state. It's so easy to empathize with her especially when you think about the one or two jobs you've despised; the employers who have devalued your work and never appreciated you. Maybe I also empathize with her because I know what it feels like to want to "acquit" yourself "honorably to the end," that you find yourself so far away from home without friend or family in sight. The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can, who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking...The human heart is like rubber, a little swells it, but a great deal will not burst it. If 'little more than nothing' will disturb it, 'little less than all things will suffice' to break it. I love how Agnes is the young Victorian woman and the young modern woman. In order to find herself, she must exercise patience, learn wherewithal, and gain career experience. And maybe as she finds herself--if she wants--she also finds a man (like Weston) who she wants to love, and not who society or family expects her to love. Side note: This is a novel where faith is a part of the everyday conversation. Anne had a firm "evangelical cast of mind," believing in the act of having one's whole life become worship. Her prose is a reflection of her Christian faith, served through the dialogue and inner thoughts of Agnes and Weston, the curate. So if you find this sort of thing bothersome, this novel could be off-putting.

  24. 5 out of 5

    JimZ

    I am reluctant to rate this book because on the front cover the book is declared a Wordsworth Classics (at the end of the book are a list of other Wordsworth Classics including The Iliad, The Odyssey, Vanity Fair, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Madame Bovary, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Scarlet Letter, and a whole gaggle of other books). If this has been rated a classic who am I to judge otherwise? With that guilt laid upon my head, I will give it a 2.4 rating, and no doubt will deserve to be rou I am reluctant to rate this book because on the front cover the book is declared a Wordsworth Classics (at the end of the book are a list of other Wordsworth Classics including The Iliad, The Odyssey, Vanity Fair, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Madame Bovary, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Scarlet Letter, and a whole gaggle of other books). If this has been rated a classic who am I to judge otherwise? With that guilt laid upon my head, I will give it a 2.4 rating, and no doubt will deserve to be roundly castigated. ☹️ The novel is about the experiences of a governess, Agnes Grey, in the 1840s in England. The novel was semi-autobiographical in nature in that Anne Brontë did spend several years as a governess to two different families (1839-1845). Apparently her time spent in this profession, at least with the first family, was not pleasant. The novel was published under the masculine pseudonym of ‘Acton Bell’ in 1847 (Anne Brontë was 27 years old). Anne Brontë died only two years later of tuberculosis. From the brief Introduction before the novel commences I get the impression one could generalize from this novel – that Agnes Grey’s experiences as a governess were not atypical for that time: “Agnes Grey…takes up the theme of concern for the conditions and treatment of governesses which was, at that time, beginning to surface in the press. The lives of many governesses were truly unenviable, often simultaneously being resisted by their charges, misjudged by their employers and held in contempt by the other servants of the household.” And on the back cover: “Agnes Grey is a trenchant exposé of the frequently isolated, intellectually stagnant and emotionally starved conditions under which many governesses worked in the mid-nineteenth century. This is a deeply personal novel written from the author’s own experience and as such has a power and poignancy which mark it out as a landmark work of literature dealing with the social and moral evolution of English society during the last (19th) century.” I gave this book a 2-star rating because I found a substantial portion of the novel to be boring. The writing, the events which were described…I was just waiting for the novel to end. Agnes Grey as narrator started out well…describing what led up to her first position (she got to the point quickly) and then her experiences with the first family, the Bloomfields — they were horrific. But very interesting to read…almost comical at points. The children appeared to come from Hell to demonize the governess. As well the children’s parents (coming from Hell)! Agnes was told less than a year after she started that her services were no longer required. So all of this took up only 40 pages of the novel. Quite a good beginning and no beating around the bush! The rest of the book was about her second position — the female adolescents that she was responsible for teaching, Miss Rosalie Murray and Miss Matilda Murray, were in their own way just as bad as the younger children from the first family. And a curate entered the picture and Agnes Grey secretly pined for him… And Agnes visits a cottager on the premises of the Murray estate and religion is discussed to excess. Pretty much everything in the next 104 pages is discussed to excess. One of those novels where one is waiting for the magical two words to appear, ‘The End’. I was skimming some paragraphs I must confess. 😕 A synopsis of Anne Bronte’s life: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_Br... Reviews: Contemporaneous reviews of the work (i.e., when it came out): https://www.annebronte.org/2018/12/09... Blog site review: https://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/... Blog site review: http://femalescriblerian.com/2017/07/... https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    So the message of this one isn't so much "men are trash" as "rich people are trash." This is essentially the 19th century precursor of The Nanny Diaries, in which we see young naive Anne-- pardon me, I mean AGNES-- go into the homes of the wealthy as a governess, and see her treated like an inconvenient ghost. The strange position of governesses is also brought up in Jane Eyre. They aren't servants, but they aren't family. They aren't low class, but they aren't the same class as their employers, So the message of this one isn't so much "men are trash" as "rich people are trash." This is essentially the 19th century precursor of The Nanny Diaries, in which we see young naive Anne-- pardon me, I mean AGNES-- go into the homes of the wealthy as a governess, and see her treated like an inconvenient ghost. The strange position of governesses is also brought up in Jane Eyre. They aren't servants, but they aren't family. They aren't low class, but they aren't the same class as their employers, either. They are simultaneously supposed to defer to their students and guide them. It's a horrible position to put anyone in, really. It also shows that "helicopter parenting" isn't a new thing, as we see the doting parents of both households constantly tell her to indulge and excuse their children's bad behavior, and then scold Agnes when the children't aren't learning more and behaving better. Mrs. Murray's little "chats" with Agnes reminded me of some of my sister's descriptions of parent-teacher conferences (she is an English teacher). I really got the sense from this book that Anne was taking the opportunity to finally unload the crap that she had seen and suffered, hidden under the guise of fiction. And then, just to finish it off, a nice tidy happy ending. I mean, not too dramatic and exotic of a happy ending, that's more Charlotte's style. But a nice little ending. After all, the point of the book is really to talk about how awful and condescending the rich are, and not so much to put Agnes above them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Actual rating 3.75/5 stars. My first Anne Bronte! It feels so good to finally say I have an equal appreciation for all of the Bronte sisters. Whilst I found the latter portion of Agnes Grey a little disappointing in comparison to my utter immersion and adoration in the beginning, this was still a solidly enjoyable read. This is a quieter novel, than all the other collected Bronte novels I have so far read, but not one without its own sparks of brilliance. This follows the life of young Agnes Grey Actual rating 3.75/5 stars. My first Anne Bronte! It feels so good to finally say I have an equal appreciation for all of the Bronte sisters. Whilst I found the latter portion of Agnes Grey a little disappointing in comparison to my utter immersion and adoration in the beginning, this was still a solidly enjoyable read. This is a quieter novel, than all the other collected Bronte novels I have so far read, but not one without its own sparks of brilliance. This follows the life of young Agnes Grey during her employment as a governess to a series of spoiled, petulant, and disagreeable children. Without any moments of high drama, frenzied passion, or thrilling intrigue this novel steadily maintained one tone throughout, and this resulted in my slight boredom during the latter portions, when more was expected from me. Closing the book, however, I came to comprehend that without passing judgement this actually provided an insight to much more than was initially realised. It's quiet observations allow the reader to take the place of the unnoticed governess, quietly observing middle-class life without seemingly any discrimination. Anne kept her character even in the telling of this tale, and only after days of mulling over this novel have I come to believe it more cunningly clever than I first understood it to be. Whilst not the most enjoyable of the Bronte books I have read, there is as much of an insightful nature and as much to take away from this than all of the other books.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Rane

    While her sisters may have started in the realm of Gothic romance, Anne Bronte gave us realism and if you dreamed once being a governess was awesome from reading Jane Eyre, Anne's Agnes Grey puts that notice to bed once and for all, with the question would have anyone have liked to have been a governess in this time and age? Anne does give us at times an ironic view of the higher society in the way they handle their children and in their own actions of not being to blamed when one of their kids While her sisters may have started in the realm of Gothic romance, Anne Bronte gave us realism and if you dreamed once being a governess was awesome from reading Jane Eyre, Anne's Agnes Grey puts that notice to bed once and for all, with the question would have anyone have liked to have been a governess in this time and age? Anne does give us at times an ironic view of the higher society in the way they handle their children and in their own actions of not being to blamed when one of their kids gets out of line as they handed their kids off to the nurse or governess to be raised. Agnes starts off as a open but shelter child, who matures slowly, falling back on her own teachings and childhood to get her through some bad times with some truly spoiled and mean children she has to care for. She truly doesn't change throughout the novel, but finds her inner strength when the chips are down. Does she get on my nerves? Yes. Only when I felt she should have stood up for herself, but as a product of her time and the terms of her employment one can see she must keep her anger and misgivings to herself. This didn't stop me from wanting to kick some of the characters in the butt for their gross and hurtful actions. Still, I can see where Anne herself as a writer was a force to be reckon with with her style that pulled the reader in and real life truth that made one see things in a different light.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Quirkyreader

    Be prepared for an emotional roller coaster when you read this Bronte tome. I tried to read it all in one sitting, but having to attend work intervenied.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    A brilliant Brontë, as always - historically fascinating in terms of examining the role of governesses in the 19th century, and a thoroughly moving love story besides.

  30. 5 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    “The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.” [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] ★★★.5 This was... fine? Definitely lacks the magic of Jane Eyre for me but I liked it way more than Wuthering Heights. I much preferred Anne's other book, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. trigger warnings: loss of siblings in infancy, mention of animal abuse and killing o “The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.” [trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers] ★★★.5 This was... fine? Definitely lacks the magic of Jane Eyre for me but I liked it way more than Wuthering Heights. I much preferred Anne's other book, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. trigger warnings: loss of siblings in infancy, mention of animal abuse and killing of animals, loss of a loved one.

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