Sara's Reviews > Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
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bookshelves: classics, literary-fiction, catching-up-classics

There can be no doubt how Anne Bronte felt about her experiences as a governess. Agnes Grey feels very autobiographical in those terms, with the spoiled children and the careless individuals of the upper class leading to a true understanding of how difficult such a position must have been for a young woman of this era. By all reports, Anne was ill suited to that profession and had it foisted upon her by necessity, just as Agnes does. That she wished to build the character of her charges and found that impossible accounts for most of the frustration Agnes feels, and probably it was the same for Anne herself. This parallel gives Agnes Grey a sense of genuineness that helps to propel the story and make one care about the outcome (which though obvious is still gratifying).

What keeps Agnes from being the captivating heroine that we find in Charlotte's Jane Eyre is her perfection. She never makes a rash or flawed judgement; she never sinks to backhanding the despicable children in her care but only strives to show them patience and set an example for them to follow; and she practices too much of goodness, self-sacrifice and strident self-examination. She is, in short, very much the parson's daughter, so we find very little of ourselves in her character. I can assure you I would have pulled Miss Murray's hair before leaving my position and never deigned to visit and comfort her as Lady Ashby. Of course, Agnes deserves a better fate because she reacts as I never would.

I enjoy writing from this period very much, and looking at life through the eyes of a Bronte is always a worthwhile venture. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is still my favorite of Anne's books, but Agnes Grey is well worth reading. I am always amazed by how much talent was displayed by these women at such a very young age. Anne Bronte died at 29.
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Reading Progress

January 23, 2015 – Shelved
January 23, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
November 11, 2015 – Started Reading
November 12, 2015 – Shelved as: classics
November 12, 2015 – Shelved as: literary-fiction
November 12, 2015 – Finished Reading
November 16, 2018 – Shelved as: catching-up-classics

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Candi (new) - added it

Candi Very nice review, Sara. This is on my list, too.


message 2: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue K H I just finished this. Great review Sara!


Sara Thank you, Sue. I am fascinated by the Brontes. I have a very thick biography of them on my MUST list for 2019.


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