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!