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Agnes Grey
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Pink | 6556 comments This is the discussion thread for Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë, our Old School Classic Group Read for March 2016.

Spoilers allowed here.

Please feel free to discuss anything you wish, relating to the book and let us know what you thought :)


Melanti | 2384 comments I did not like this one at all..

Agnes is terrible at being a governess, but she seems to blame everyone except herself for her problems.

She's educated, sure, but she knows nothing about teaching or raising small children and just can't cope when they're not perfect angels. And seeing how badly she handled interacting with the adults around her, I really doubt she was any more skillful in relating to her charges. Is it any wonder they didn't listen to her?


Pink | 6556 comments Haha, she was definitely out of her depth caring for children. It's really interesting to think that the Bronte sisters and women in general would have been pushed into caring for children, as one of their few working opportunities, even though they might have been terrible at it!

I don't remember disliking Anne or being irritated by her, I think I felt quite sorry for her, although I guess she could be quite frustrating.


Melanti | 2384 comments It must have been hard back then... Women had very, very few choices of respectable careers and fewer still options if you just weren't good at performing them!



I would have liked her a lot more if she'd just asked for advice.

Not from the kids' parent - I'm sure that wouldn't have been possible. But perhaps from the nurse or a her mother or ... I'm not sure who, actually. There wasn't many around that she could have talked to.

Failing that, at least concede that there might be something wrong with how you're attempting to teach them... Instead of "what can I do differently?" or "How can I make the best of this bad situation?" she just throws up her hands when the kids aren't carbon copies of herself when she was a child and says "Aren't these kids awful? I never would have done such a thing!".


Nente | 779 comments She actually starts out like that - she thinks she would be able to work as a governess because she can be guided by the remembrance of her own childhood. Yeah, right - the only thing I could say when I read that, even before reading about her actual experience.


message 6: by Sylwia (last edited Mar 02, 2016 11:14PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sylwia (sylwialovesloki) | 145 comments Melanti wrote: "I did not like this one at all..

Agnes is terrible at being a governess, but she seems to blame everyone except herself for her problems.

She's educated, sure, but she knows nothing about teach..."


I feel the same way. She's so judgemental of everyone.


Kerstin I loved the book!

The book reminds me how much I dislike the vagaries of the upper classes. Anne's descriptions on how trapped a governess was makes you really feel for them. Agnes really couldn't speak up regarding the behavior of the children. She was expected to work a miracle when all her efforts were thwarted from every end. She wasn't given any real authority to set goals and enforce them, to discipline her charges when needed, and since she was of lower rank the kids could run roughshod over her at will. Yes, she was inexperienced at first --who wouldn't be? -- but she was thrown into a completely different situation from what she knew and could not draw from the experiences she had. All the expectations that were enforced in her home did not apply here. From a human point of view, Agnes had to willingly submit to a form of tyranny or lose her job -- a fate all too common in those days before labor laws of our understanding were fully defined.

Anne also writes very well of the utter isolation governesses were forced into. They were above the servants but below the gentry they served. They were cast into a perpetual social vacuum and completely ignored until no-one else was around to talk to. Then all of a sudden they were good enough.
Despite all the painful snubs Agnes is able to cope. Because she is introverted, her mechanism is to withdraw into herself, to go into an inner exile, and that's what gives her renewed strength.


Nente | 779 comments Finished this. The ending smacks of wishful thinking, I must look up Anne's biography to find out what was autobiographical and what was hopeful dreams.


Sylwia (sylwialovesloki) | 145 comments Kerstin wrote: "I loved the book!

The book reminds me how much I dislike the vagaries of the upper classes. Anne's descriptions on how trapped a governess was makes you really feel for them. Agnes really couldn'..."


Very thoughtful.


message 10: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2016 01:16PM) (new)

I haven't yet finished the book. I'm at the point where Agnes has been dismissed by the Bloomfields and is heading to Horton Lodge.

I'm enjoying it. I very much agree that Agnes is completely ill-equipped to serve as a governess. It's as though Agnes were raised in a nunnery, given her piety, her naïveté, and her idealism, all of which seem products of her immaturity. She's been so sheltered, and it seems this is the first time she's encountered others with values different from her own. I feel sorry for her, because her idealism about how things should be is brutally challenged by how things are, at least in the Bloomfields' world. No doubt, the Bloomfields are negligent parents. But, I wonder if Anne Brontë wanted me to sympathize more with Agnes' complaints, or wanted me to sympathize with Agnes' immature inflexibility, with her own behavior and ideas being at the root of her own unhappiness? I'm not sure.

If she's learned anything from living with the Bloomfields it's that the manner in which she's been raised is quite different from that of other people. Still, she seems to be headed off to Horton Lodge with the hope and expectation that this "higher bred" family will have values more akin to hers. I'm interested to see how it turns out.


message 11: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 08, 2016 05:45PM) (new)

One other thing (something I'm curious about)...

Has it struck anyone else as strange that Agnes doesn't seem to regard herself as a servant, and bristles at the family treating her as such? Weren't governesses considered servants? Certainly, Rosalie Murray takes her up the back stairs when showing her to her room, which is in the servants' quarters. She eats with the children, but not the adult family members. She's asked to refer to the children as "master" and "miss," another indication that she's the family's "inferior" (even the children's inferior). She seems surprised by how the family treats her, yet I would think applicants for the job of governess would expect nothing more. Am I wrong about the status of governesses? Most of my knowledge of the British service system comes from Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey.

I'm just trying to get a handle on whether Agnes is a radical of sorts, bucking against the constraints of the class system, or is she simply naïve about the system into which she's entered, and naïve about her class standing in relation to the Murrays.


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Pink | 6556 comments I'd have thought that the role of governess would have been above the servant class, she'd have seen herself as higher than the uneducated staff.


Nente | 779 comments I think the idea is that she is a daughter of a gentleman, therefore nominally their equal. But probably the idea would be actually acted upon very rarely...
I remember in Emma, whenever Jane Fairfax's going to be a governess is discussed, it's described as a life of suffering, "penance and privation forever."


Melanti | 2384 comments MMG wrote: "But, I wonder if Anne Brontë wanted me to sympathize more with Agnes' complaints, or wanted me to sympathize with Agnes' immature inflexibility, with her own behavior and ideas being at the root of her own unhappiness? I'm not sure. ..."

Anne wrote this just 2 years after her own stint of being a governess. She wasn't even 30 yet. And apparently started planning the novel just after she left her second position. I think I remember hearing that Anne said she was going to re-read this before hiring her own governess if she ever had kids.

Given that the timing especially, I'd question whether Anne herself had enough distance from her situation to recognize how her/Agnes' inflexibility contributed to their unhappiness. (I know I'm making a big leap by assuming that Anne's personality was identical to Agnes's, but it seems lie a reasonable leap to make - given that the novel so auto-biographical.)

MMG wrote: "Has it struck anyone else as strange that Agnes doesn't seem to regard herself as a servant, and bristles at the family treating her as such? Were..."

She's in this sort of vague space between the family and the rest of the servant. You can see that she's treated much better than the other servants by things like her getting two month long holidays per year, or the fact that she has free time, that she eats with the family, etc.
But all of her wishing to be treated exactly like one of the family and mothered by the kids' mother is completely unreasonable, IMO.


message 15: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2016 06:36AM) (new)

Thanks, Pink, Nente, and Melanti.

Certainly, I hadn't considered that her education, alone, would have placed her above the other servants. I am assuming (and perhaps wrongly so) that most of the other household servants would have been illiterate at that time, certainly the older servants. I did find it interesting that Mrs. Murray's lady's maid snubbed her.

This is a fascinating look into the 19th C. British class system. Agnes really embodies the phrase "in a class by itself."

Back to the book...


message 16: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments I suppose most of the other servants would have been illiterate, or semi-illiterate, not having need for much schooling if they were heading for a life in service. I think the lady's maid would have thought herself more important, being near the top of the servant hierarchy.


message 17: by Melanti (last edited Mar 09, 2016 07:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Melanti | 2384 comments MMG wrote: "Thanks, Pink, Nente, and Melanti.

Certainly, I hadn't considered that her education, alone, would have placed her above the other servants. I am assuming (and perhaps wrongly so) that most of the..."


I think the literacy rate in general was around 50% or 60% in England at the time. The US was around 90% Though what the rate was specifically for servants, I have no clue, but I assume that more knew how to read than we'd think today. But that's literacy rates in English - not literacy rates for Latin, French, etc. or knowledge of music and painting, which is what the Governesses were for.

I think in most cases a lady's maid was in a similar social position to Agnes - above the rest of the servants but below the family.

But I remember hearing, that in general, servants somewhat thought of governesses as hypocrites - thinking themselves genteel and having genteel airs when they were, in fact, a servant just like them.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Interesting facts about literacy and literacy rates!

I found two nonfiction books about governesses, The Victorian Governess by Kathryn Hughes (1993), and Governess: The Lives and Times of the Real Jane Eyres by Ruth Brandon (2008). Have any of you read them? I certainly won't be able to read them before I finish Agnes Grey, but I'd like to read at least one of them before I tackle another Victorian governess novel.


Melanti | 2384 comments MMG wrote: "Have any of you read them? ..."
Those sound really interesting, but no. All of what I know comes from reading classics, a couple of TV documentaries (Downton Abby has spurred quite a bit of interest in the topic), and general info picked up from websites that appear to be reputable and know what they're talking about.

All these sources are unreliable, obviously, so in reality, I know absolutely nothing concrete about the topic.


Kerstin MMG wrote: " It's as though Agnes were raised in a nunnery, given her piety, her naïveté, and her idealism, all of which seem products of her immaturity.."

I am very hesitant to mark Agnes as immature. A more apt description would be young and inexperienced. Life in a country estate would not have been something she could have had much experience with until she was immersed in it.

Agnes was raised in a parsonage. That means folks would come and knock on the door at all hours with all sorts of needs and emergencies. She would have witnessed the frailties of life to an extent we never witness today. This leaves little room for naiveté.

Equating faith with immaturity doesn't quite work for me. It only means that she was fully immersed and invested in the Christian world-view -- as was everybody else, and very normal.

Some of the most astute women in history were nuns :)
St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Teresa of Calcutta, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Katherine Drexler, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Angela Merici, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, etc., etc., etc.,


message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2016 03:44PM) (new)

Kerstin wrote: "MMG wrote: " It's as though Agnes were raised in a nunnery, given her piety, her naïveté, and her idealism, all of which seem products of her immaturity.."

I am very hesitant to mark Agnes as imma..."


Kerstin, I think you're right that "immature" was, indeed, a poor word choice, and that "inexperienced" better fits the bill. You make a great point, too, that she would have witnessed quite a bit of suffering when her father's parishioners came to the parsonage for aid. She probably wasn't as sheltered as I've imagined her to be. Well said!

And yes, you're absolutely right, many nuns have been undeniably keen and intelligent! :)

I also agree that being pious/faithful doesn't mean you're immature. That was also a poor word choice on my part. Really, I find Agnes to be sanctimonious. Trying to find a reason for her being so, I've guessed that it's because her inexperience is strangely coupled with arrogance. I can imagine that once she's had more opportunities, herself, to err, misstep, or fail, she might become more forgiving when others do the same. In other words, the more life she lives, I imagine the more forgiving she'll become. That's what I was trying to get at. But, at the moment, I find her pretty inflexible, unable to forgive weakness, and a little too sure of her own moral purity. Maybe I'll change my mind about her the further I get into the novel.


Nente | 779 comments I'm not going to question the others' word choices, but my issue with Agnes is that she is incapable of admitting a doubt of her opinions. There is some lip service to her actions being possibly wrong, but she never can accept that some of her opinions are.
To me that is not so much immature as unintelligent.


Kathleen | 3798 comments It is so interesting to read everyone's thoughts, and MMG, I really appreciate you pointing out those governess books--I'd like to check them out.

I actually didn't have a problem with Agnes complaining, and I didn't even feel she was the one at fault in her handling of the children. I thought she was in a difficult position with terribly spoiled children and employers stopping her from doing anything about it.

But it really was like reading a diary. Not much story there. I'm glad I read it though, and gave it three stars (my review).


RebeccaErGlad MegetGlad | 5 comments I think the quality of the book almost entirely depends on how you read it. As a love story, and the story of a young girl entering into the world and maturing, I agree with most, it's ok, but sometimes (often) frustrating and not very exciting - though I like the love interest being a good person, bringing home a much needed point these days, that men don't have to be mean and narcissistic to be worthy of infatuation and love (as opposed to the view taken by much popular fiction).

If you, on the other hand, view is as a form of class critique, I think it's quite good. In the isolated position as a governess, Agnes is able to comment on her employers from a unique perspective, given that she knows them so intimately (in some ways). Her depiction of children, who could be good, but are corrupted, mainly by their parents, implies som sort of bad spiral, where these corrupted, self-centered children grow up to ruin children of their own, as hinted at by Rosalie's disregard of her daughter towards the end. I don't think the children are depicted as inherently bad, but rather victims.

I gave it three stars too, though, mainly because I simply couldn't identify with Agnes - a great book should not have to sacrifice a gripping storyline for social commentary. Also, three stars doesn't mean I didn't like it.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Now that I'm further into the book, I'm feeling differently about Agnes. (I hope to finish it this weekend.) Like most of you, I have great sympathy for her (although I still find her prim and critical). Her values seem so diametrically opposed to those of the Murrays, yet they are her only companions. If I were in that situation, I'd certainly feel isolated and depressed, and would likely take a negative view of the world, myself. This statement by Agnes, in particular, was so devastating to me: "Never a new idea or stirring thought came to me from without; and such as rose within me were, ... miserably crushed at once, or doomed to sicken and fade away, because they could not see the light." She has no one to talk to, and her intense loneliness is palpable.

RebeccaErGlad, I've had similar thoughts to you about the children, and feel sorry for them, especially. Their parents' contrasting indulgence and indifference seem to me to be akin to neglect.

Kathleen mentioned the book's reading like a diary. Has anyone else wondered how the novel might have been improved (for lack of a better word) had Brontë chosen to write it in the third person? I've been wondering about that.


Melanti | 2384 comments RebeccaErGlad wrote: "If you, on the other hand, view is as a form of class critique, I think it's quite good. ..."
The reason the class critique aspect didn't work for me was that, for all that Agnes was negatively impacted by her isolation and such, she's still highly privileged - both overall and for someone in her position. And she can recognize all the negative aspects of her own positions, but she's completely oblivious to the areas where that same system gives her a lot of privileges that make her life a lot better than it could be.

For instance, when she's worried that she might not get to go home in time for Christmas, she focuses on the unfairness of her own promised holiday being (possibly) revoked, she never stops to think that not only do the other workers in the house have to work through the whole holiday - they will have to work harder than normal due to the ball.


Melanti | 2384 comments MMG wrote: " Has anyone else wondered how the novel might have been improved (for lack of a better word) had Brontë chosen to write it in the third person? I've been wondering about that. ..."

There's a little ambiguity in the fact that she doesn't write it in third person... Not a lot, but a little. There was a couple of moments when Agnes was at the Bloomfields, for instance, that I wondered if the kids were really that bad or if they were just riling Agnes up because it was fun and easy to do.

I think it being so autobiographical makes it a great candidate for a first person POV. Especially since the book was written so soon after the events happened.


Kathleen | 3798 comments Great point, Melanti. Agnes may not have been totally selfish, but she certainly wasn't enlightened. But I don't think many characters written at that time were.

Her loneliness struck me too, MMG, and the way she talked about her family as her "friends."

I love what you said about that bad spiral, Rebecca. I hadn't thought of that--so glad you pointed it out!


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Melanti wrote: "RebeccaErGlad wrote: "If you, on the other hand, view is as a form of class critique, I think it's quite good. ..."
The reason the class critique aspect didn't work for me was that, for all that Ag..."


In regards to the class system and class status, etc., another small thing I noticed was how both Agnes and Mr. Weston referred to the widow Nancy Brown in conversation. It's implied the widow is elderly. Certainly, she is Agnes' and Mr. Weston's elder. Yet, when visiting and conversing with her, they both address her as "Nancy." To me, the more respectful address would be "Mrs. Brown," especially in deference to her age and the formalities of the time. (In Pride and Prejudice, I was always struck by how Mrs. Bennet would directly address her own husband as "Mr. Bennet.") Yet, it's implied that class distinctions permit Agnes and Mr. Weston to feel they can address her as "Nancy." It's a small thing, but still a way of denying her a certain amount of respect.


Kerstin MMG wrote: " I find Agnes to be sanctimonious. Trying to find a reason for her being so, I've guessed that it's because her inexperience is strangely coupled with arrogance."

Look at any teenager, and you'll find the same attitude :) They think they know it all and don't realize what they are missing is life experience and a healthy dose of humility.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Kerstin wrote: "MMG wrote: " I find Agnes to be sanctimonious. Trying to find a reason for her being so, I've guessed that it's because her inexperience is strangely coupled with arrogance."

Look at any teenager,..."


Haha! Yes! :) I keep having to remind myself how very young Agnes is.


Christine | 1217 comments I enjoyed this book. I reread Jane Eyre recently, and it was interesting to get another perspective on the life of a governess. I would assume that Anne and Charlotte Bronte probably discussed their experiences of being a governess with one another - I wonder how much they influenced one another's stories.

I can definitely see how some would feel that Agnes was too preachy or too whiny, but I didn't react that way to her. She was a young woman doing the best she could with her circumstances, and since I have children in that same age group (and have gone through it myself) I don't think Agnes' reactions were all that unrealistic.

While I did like this book and gave it 4 stars, I think The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was definitely superior. That book is one of my favorites, and actually is my favorite of all the Bronte novels I have read thus far. Of Charlotte's, I have only read Jane Eyre so far, so maybe that will change. But at this point, The Tenant has been my only 5 star Bronte read.


Kathleen | 3798 comments Great thoughts, Christine. I'll be reading Jane Eyre later this year, and up until Agnes Grey, had only read Wuthering Heights of the Bronte's. I have some catching up to do, but definitely want to read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.


Andrea AKA Catsos Person (catsosperson) | 1791 comments Christine, ABs books are my fave of the sisters and of the two, I liked "Wildfell Hall" best.

I think I liked her social commentary about marriage for women--very shocking at the time.


Melanti | 2384 comments I agree that I liked Tenant of Wildfell Hall better than anything of her sisters that I've read.

Did I ever post this comic?
comic that says Anne Bronte has boring taste in men


Nathan | 421 comments I agree with many of you that Agnes was not very skilled at managing any of the children. Tom Bloomfield was a little psycho though. I don't think anyone could've wrangled him.

I ended up respecting Agnes. Leaving her family to take on a daunting job, failing, and then having the guts to try again...I know she didn't have other attractive options, but still, it takes character to put yourself out there like that.

Melanti wrote: " And she can recognize all the negative aspects of her own positions, but she's completely oblivious to the areas where that same system gives her a lot of privileges that make her life a lot better than it could be."

True. I think that applies to many people now too. For me, it made Agnes a more realistic and interesting character. I'm just glad I didn't find her short-comings so overwhelming that I didn't like her. I don't think I would have enjoyed this book if Agnes hadn't had her flaws.


message 37: by [deleted user] (new)

I have just begun reading. Had lost my book. Now it's found.


Christine | 1217 comments Melanti wrote: "I agree that I liked Tenant of Wildfell Hall better than anything of her sisters that I've read.

Did I ever post this comic?
"


Hahahahahaha!!!! Love that comic!!!


message 39: by MKay (new) - rated it 3 stars

MKay | 277 comments Nente wrote: "Finished this. The ending smacks of wishful thinking, I must look up Anne's biography to find out what was autobiographical and what was hopeful dreams."

That does interest me, too. It wrapped up nicely didn't it?


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Despite my earlier comments, by the end of the novel, I found I'd warmed up to Agnes, and was even rooting for her, hoping she'd marry Mr. Weston and find some happiness. In the latter part of the book, it seemed Agnes had grown and transformed a bit, and was less self-righteous and more forgiving towards the other characters. Certainly, her position towards Rosalie changes, and, of course, Rosalie's position towards Agnes.

I liked how AB handled the development of Agnes' and Rosalie's relationship. AB managed to make me sympathize for Rosalie, despite her (many) faults. Rosalie, too, had grown emotionally and gained some wisdom. But, because of her choice of marriage based on her mother's desire that she marry to gain position/land/money, poor Rosalie seemed doomed to a life of unhappiness. AB seemed to be making the point that, no matter their class ranking, women's lives could be miserable given the many restraints and expectations placed upon them.

This is my second Brontë book. My first was Jane Eyre. I found this one to be more realistic and less romantic than Jane Eyre, and for that reason, I preferred it, and ended up enjoying it very much. (I'm not usually one for romance.) I surprised myself by giving it 4 stars.


Kerstin MMG wrote: "AB seemed to be making the point that, no matter their class ranking, women's lives could be miserable given the many restraints and expectations placed upon them."

I am glad you ended up liking the book. :)

Very true. Though I am inclined to think that we are far less free than we proclaim to be. We are all products of our background and age, and restraints and expectations may have shifted, but they are still there.

Both Agnes and Rosalie in the end come to terms with their lives, but they come from different perspectives. Agnes has the good fortune of making a happy match in the end, but she really didn't expect it or counted on it.
Rosalie on the other hand had the unrealistic expectation of the grand "happy-ever-after" and got a big wake-up call. Did she have the choice in refusing the match if she'd had reservations? Of course! The signs were all there for her to take an honest second look before plunging in. Her mother may not have liked it, but in the end she was too conditioned to follow the expected path.
Paradoxically, Agnes was the one who was more unfettered, with less expectations attached to her, to choose her life path than Rosalie.


message 42: by Pink (new) - rated it 3 stars

Pink | 6556 comments MMG, I'm glad this book grew on you, I think I had similar feelings in regards to this one and Jane Eyre.


Bridget | 4 comments I find it interesting, if not surprising, the reactions to Agnes Grey here. I liked the book. I found Agnes to be someone who would not be crushed by the system she found herself in. The funny thing is, in general, I didn't care for the other books I read by the Bronte sisters ("Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre"). I would never say that they weren't written well, I just didn't like the romanticism of either of them. Agnes as a character seemed very level headed. It's been mentioned numerous times that she is very ill-equipped to handle children, and I won't disagree there, but how many here have had to ever deal with thoroughly entitled children? It's dispiriting and challenging to say the least! She's not flexible, but she does find it within herself to love them, and the fact that Rosalie asks for her company after she's married speaks volumes. Rosalie may not agree with any of Agnes values or see the world in the same way Agnes does-not by a long-shot-and we can argue that she only invites her old governess to make herself feel better about the life she's chosen (luxury sans love), but I think there's more to it than that. I think she sees Agnes as a calm comfort. Furthermore, Agnes may be the only person she's known love from, this despite the fact that Agnes detest Rosalie's lifestyle and values.

I don't think Agnes would be fun at a party, but I respect her. I'm glad I read the book. Bonus points for the fact that it's listed in "1001 Books To Read Before You Die", and I try to read from that list from time to time. :)


Bridget | 4 comments Melanti wrote: "I agree that I liked Tenant of Wildfell Hall better than anything of her sisters that I've read.

Did I ever post this comic?
"


I want to read "Tenant"! This comic is golden! I love Kate Beaton! :)


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 23, 2016 09:23AM) (new)

Bridget wrote: "I don't think Agnes would be fun at a party, but I respect her."

Haha! :) That exact same phrase kept running through my mind while I was reading the book. :)


Melanti | 2384 comments Bridget wrote: "The funny thing is, in general, I didn't care for the other books I read by the Bronte sisters ("Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre"). I would never say that they weren't written well, I just didn't like the romanticism of either of them. ..."

Bridget wrote: "I want to read "Tenant"! This comic is golden! I l..."

Well, if you don't like romanticism, you'll probably love Tenant. It's very realistic compared to her sisters' books.


Bridget | 4 comments Melanti wrote: "Bridget wrote: "The funny thing is, in general, I didn't care for the other books I read by the Bronte sisters ("Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre"). I would never say that they weren't written wel..."

Great! It's on my "To Read" list. Thanks! :)


message 48: by MKay (new) - rated it 3 stars

MKay | 277 comments Bridget wrote: "I find it interesting, if not surprising, the reactions to Agnes Grey here. I liked the book. I found Agnes to be someone who would not be crushed by the system she found herself in. The funny thin..."

Thanks, Bridget, I liked her too and felt she needed to be able to discipline the children. Not many people today would go out and work to help their families and she was brave in leaving the only home she'd ever known.


Bridget | 4 comments MKay wrote: "Bridget wrote: "I find it interesting, if not surprising, the reactions to Agnes Grey here. I liked the book. I found Agnes to be someone who would not be crushed by the system she found herself in..."

That's a good point, MKay! She was willing to become self-sufficient to help her family. It was sacrificial, and she never complained, except to us, the readers. :)


message 50: by Trudy (last edited Mar 25, 2016 11:17AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Trudy Brasure | 34 comments Kerstin wrote: "I loved the book!

The book reminds me how much I dislike the vagaries of the upper classes. Anne's descriptions on how trapped a governess was makes you really feel for them. Agnes really couldn'..."


I agree. I thought it was made clear that in both cases, the authority Agnes needed to discipline her charges was undermined by the parents. The children were already monsters when she arrived, caring for nobody and given no incentive to self-discilpine or self-improvement. Mommy and daddy thought they were all brilliant already. It was always the governess's fault they were so unruly!

What a nightmare situation to be in. Agnes did well in trying to instill some kind of values and order in their lives.


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