Agnes Grey
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Agnes Grey

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  22,561 ratings  ·  1,146 reviews
Concerned for her family’s financial welfare and eager to expand her own horizons, Agnes Grey takes up the position of governess, the only respectable employment for an unmarried woman in the nineteenth century. Unfortunately, Agnes cannot anticipate the hardship, humiliation, and loneliness that await her in the brutish Bloomfield and haughty Murray households. Drawn from...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published April 8th 2003 by Modern Library (first published 1847)
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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...more
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 ow...more
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...more
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...more

Agnes Grey is the first of two novels written by the youngest of the Bronte sisters. A number of aspects of the life of Anne Bronte, who died from tuberculosis at the age of 29, are reflected in the plot. The eponymous heroine is the daughter of a clergyman who loses his independent income, as a result of which she elects to work as a governess. Written in the form of a memoir, the first person narrative sets out Agnes' experiences working for two families, meeting and falling in love with a cle...more
Jun 16, 2014 Cheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of the Victorian novel
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...more
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.
So said the teachers of our childhood; and so say we to the children of the present day. All very judicious and proper no doubt; but are such assertions supported by actual experience?

Plot Summary

In many respects, Agnes bears some similarities to Jane Eyre, at least in terms of temp...more
Mar 26, 2010 Sylvia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls who care about virtue
Recommended to Sylvia by: Hannah Brockhaus
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...more
Mar 11, 2009 Salma rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Chandra and Abigail
The story is simple- Agnes Grey is a clergyman's daughter who wishes to earn her living as a governess. The book reads as a diary without the dates of her experiences 'teaching' the offspring of the 'cream of the crop' in nineteenth-century British society. I use those words in quotes because the narrator makes it very clear to the reader that learning for the sake of learning is not foremost on her students' minds. And she also makes it clear that she finds the fact that these shallow, arrogant...more
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 wor...more
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, and
3. 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...more
Jul 15, 2007 Rebecca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: classics lovers
Shelves: classics
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...more
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 o...more
Christy B
When venturing forth on Anne's work, I decided to start with Agnes Grey, rather than her more popular The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Agnes Grey is more autobiographical.

One of the things I noticed that differentiated Anne from her sisters was she was more to the point, more realistic in her writing. There was no taking the long way around, she got you to the point good and fast, yet without missing the sights along the way.

Agnes Grey is the story of a young woman basically forced to become a gover...more
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 nov...more
I love this book. I know nobody gives a shit about Anne Bronte, from a scholarly perspective (what? who?) - she's meek and shy and passive and doesn't give her characters flaming banners, extolling self-reliance/feminism/courage/narcissism/evil, as do the other literary Brontes, her sisters, Emily & Charlotte.
WHATEVER. I love it. Anne is not self-possessed; she is homesick to the point of stomach ulcers. Anne - I mean, Agnes - visits poor old women and makes nice with cats. She goes to chur...more
Simona Bartolotta
"In ogni storia vera è racchiusa una morale."

Questa frase è l'incipit del nostro Agnes Grey. Orbene, se la storia ivi narrata è vera anche solo in parte, e se essa davvero contiene una morale, quale sarebbe questa morale?
Io lo so, io lo so!

La morale è: don't worry, anche se sei una giovane istitutrice buona, dolce e caritatevole tanto da far venire il vomito, remissiva tanto da passare per inetta, ingenua tanto da non sembrare verosimile, arriverà anche per te il vicario della zona che ti sollev...more
This book is so much more like a Jane Austen read than a Bronte one! No crazy wives in the attic or Heathcliffe hitting his head against a tree in the orchard. No melodrama really anywhere to be seen.

I've never read a book from the lesser known Bronte sister before and I was surprised how engaging and charming this simple story was.

The story starts out with Agnes, the daughter of a vicar. Unfortunately her father loses everything in a bad business deal so she becomes a governess to help pay off...more
I love this book. Every time I reread it, I like it more. I love how gentle, how subdued, how circumspect the book is. I also love the themes it made me think about that I very rarely encounter in modern-day literature. Themes like: duty, community, love of God, repsonsibility to God, focusing on others needs before my own. These themes are thrilling to me because they feel so outside my present culture and it is amazing to me to see how much they guide Agnes' life.
I don't think I've ever been so conflicted about a rating. Though the story is evenly written, my opinion of it was in constant fluctuation. The first quarter of the book, I hated. I found the writing dull and the heroine insufferable. While it's true, there was none too little self-righteousness in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I could easily sympathize. Helen was up against a decadent, domineering husband. Agnes, as a governess, grapples with children. Small children, to begin with. And, she ju...more
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 man...more
This is Anne Brontë's first novel and my first by her. The youngest of the four Brontë children—Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne—she was only a year old when her mother died. Raised by a reputedly gloomy and difficult father, the children seemed to transcend their drab and overbearing lot through elaborately constructed fantasy worlds which were the juvenile precursors to their adult literary constructs.

In Agnes Grey, Anne Brontë fictionalizes her own real life experiences as an English gover...more
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 l...more
I was truly surprised by how much I enjoyed this story about the ills of society. It was a simple tale told of a young woman who takes on the role of governess to what nicely could be called a bunch of brats. Agnes, our dignified protagonist, decides to become a governess to young children. Unfortunately, those entrusted to her care are spoiled, unmanageable little curs who delight in the most appalling behavior including torturing animals, as well as one another and poor Agnes. Poor Agnes is st...more
Agnes Grey contains equally fine writing to both Emily's and Charlotte's work with a storyline that fits in between Jane Eyre and Wuthering Height in terms of likeability.

It is, like Jane Eyre, the tale of a governess. Yet, unlike Jane Eyre, Agnes Grey focuses on the problems faced by a governess in two different families. One family full of young children who are ungovernable and the other a family of older children, the girls of which play on the local men's heartstrings or act in unladylike...more
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...more
This was a simple, albeit enjoyable tale of Agnes Grey, a younger daughter who seeks her way in the world employed as a governess. I understand this tale is based upon Ms. Bronte's own experiences and brings to light the snobbery of the upper class along with the often degrading way that the servants are treated by the same.

The first family literally has the children from h***, the second family being not quite as abusive, but still treat the servants as second class people. The young Misses Mu...more
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...more
To simply state it, Charlotte is the storyteller in the Bronte family, Emily is about passion and high drama, and Anne is the best writer of the bunch. Based loosely upon her own experiences, Anne writes about what life as a governess is like during the Victorian era. The one thing that I learned is that kids from rich families have a tendency toward poor behavior. I'm sure that that tendency still exists today.

Overall, an interesting read, and Anne should not be missed if one intends to get to...more
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The Brontë Family: Agnes Grey (1847) 1 13 Dec 30, 2011 10:16AM  
Classics for Begi...: Agnes Gray by Anne Bronte 17 76 Nov 01, 2011 08:34AM  
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Anne Brontë was a British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. Anne's two novels, written in a sharp and ironic style, are completely different from the romanticism followed by her sisters, Emily Brontë and Charlotte Brontë. She wrote in a realistic, rather than a romantic style. Mainly because the re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was prevented by Char...more
More about Anne Brontë...
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey The Works of the Brontë Sisters The Complete Works of the Bronte Sisters Best Poems of the Brontë Sisters

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“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.” 124 likes
“I was sorry for her; I was amazed, disgusted at her heartless vanity; 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.

But, God knows best, I concluded. There are, I suppose, some men as vain, as selfish, and as heartless as she is, and, perhaps, such women may be useful to punish them.”
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