Thursday, September 5, 2013

Agnes Grey

This is the first of Anne Bronte's two novels and its events are said to be based on Anne's own brief career as a governess. I found the book a bit bleak at first, but Agnes's generally positive attitude and her efforts to see the larger picture helped to give the story a less dire tone as it went along. The style of the novel made it an easy read. The fact that there are occasional mentions of the fact that the narrator is looking back from a future time when all has turned out well helps keep the bad things that happen from seeming too horrible. There are a view philosophical/moral digressions in the story, but they were fairly short and I thought that they did help to illuminate Agnes's character. The reflections on beauty, most of which basically boil down to "pretty is as pretty does," made it very clear how Agnes's feelings for Mr. Weston evolved through the novel. Her descriptions of his looks reflected her knowledge of his character and the observations about beauty made it obvious what those changes meant.

I thought the contrasts between the various marriages that were depicted, some based on love and some on money, was very striking. I also liked the way that Agnes' mother was depicted. Her management of her husband was a strong counterpoint to the relationships between the husbands and wives in the households where Agnes goes to work.

Agnes is a very religious young woman, as was Anne Bronte, but she sometimes struggles with her choice to do what she knows is right which I thought made her a more appealing character than she would otherwise have been. I thought the ending was quite predictable, but it was also just what was wanted.

The character of Agnes Grey reminded me of Little Women's Meg March. I thought this was a very well written story about an appealing character.

This book was my September 2013 Classics Club Spin book and it counts toward the Colorful Reading Challenge.


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, I really liked it too. I'm a teacher so I could relate to a lot of Agnes' experiences.
    I did think it was weird how the story suddenly changed emphasis half way through though.

  2. This is on my TBR pile - how does it compare to Jane Eyre?

    1. That is an excellent question, but I haven't read JE since I was in school and I'm not sure. JE is on my classics club list (one of the few re-reads).

    2. Jane Eyre is more Gothic and romantic; Agnes Grey is more direct, realistic, and to the point.

    3. Mary, I love that you compare Agnes Grey to Meg March. That's interesting! :)


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