Monday, January 4, 2010

Agnes Grey, by Anne Bronte

Prior to reading Agnes Grey, I had not read any of Anne Bronte's writing. Truthfully, I have only ever ready one Bronte novel at all: Wuthering Heights.

This is the description from the publisher of the copy I purchased this weekend at Barnes and Noble:

Written when women—and workers generally—had few rights in England, Agnes Grey exposes the brutal inequities of the rigid class system in mid-nineteenth century Britain. Agnes comes from a respectable middle-class family, but their financial reverses have forced her to seek work as a governess. Pampered and protected at home, she is unprepared for the harsh reality of a governess’s life. At the Bloomfields and later the Murrays, she suffers under the snobbery and sadism of the selfish, self-indulgent upper-class adults and the shrieking insolence of their spoiled children. Worse, the unique social and economic position of a governess—“beneath” her employers but “above” their servants—condemns her to a life of loneliness.

I was prepared for a long and slow read before I started the book. I took on this reading challenge because I did truly want the challenge of reading something that I might not just read on my own and that I also thought would be good to round out my exposure to some different styles of writing. I really have always enjoyed the plots of Victorian novels and I usually enjoy the movie adaptations as well, but the wordy writing style always ends up boring me and I put it down.

This novel did not have that affect on me at all. I found the plot very interesting from the beginning as it tells about poor Agnes and her horrible experiences as a governess. Maybe I sympathized with her with it taking me back to my own horrible two years as a first grade public school teacher! ugh! I loved how Anne Bronte developed the personalities of all the characters...and how uncomfortable and sorry I felt for Agnes Grey in all her troubles!

Then, there is the love story plot. Developed so slowly and therefore so much more believable! It was beautiful and interesting and I finished it in three evenings of reading time...the first one being just the first two chapters. This was a great way to break into the Bronte and Victorian reading challenges. It was only a couple hundred pages and easy to finish, so I feel inspired to keep going now since I already have one under my belt!


EmileeHope said...

I loved this book when I read it a few years ago!! I had never read any of Anne's books before then, and that is why I really want to read her other one, because I loved this one sooooo much! Glad you joined me in this challenge, but you are already kicking my butt!! Slow down must read like my sister! It takes me FOREVER to finish a book, even if I love it!! I am just a slow reader I guess! I did watch a few movies over the New Years weekend, but I haven't had a chance to write about them yet...I guess I should get on that!

Andy's Bethy said...

I actually don't think I have read Agnes Grey. I think I borrowed it from Emilee after she read it and loved it, but I think it has sat on the shelf since then... I always have a million books on my "to read" list. I will have to make sure I pick it up soon.
Sounds great!

Laura's Reviews said...

Great review! I think I'll reread Agnes Grey myself as it has been five or six years since I've read it. I love both of Anne Bronte's novels and I'm not sure why they don't receive as much press and prestige as Emily's and Charlotte's.

Josh'sWif said...

I guess I started off just like you! I just got done reading it!