thelonereader

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

In General Fiction on July 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Title: Agnes Grey
Author: Anne Bronte
Genre: Fiction
Rating: ****/****
ISBN: 1848376081

I’ve never read anything by Anne, but I had high expectations since after all, it’s a work written by a Bronte. It’s a simple story on the surface, a poor daughter decides to become a governess to not only help her family, but to give her a sense of independence & accomplishment in the world. How she ends up being treated in her role as governess to two families is disrespectfully, making something like the ‘Nanny Diaries’ look like nothing. Spoiled children whose discipline is lax with parents, who undermine her efforts to improve their behavior. Agnes was hopeful at first, because she thought her place in a household would be one of respect, but governesses had more of an ambiguous social standing. Should they be treated like servants or not?

‘Agnes Grey’ doesn’t have the timeless quality that her sisters’ works do, but it does let the reader in how poorly a governess was treated in Victorian England. How they gradually came to be accepted by the children or families they worked with, but they still had to walk a fine line between employee & friend/companion. But the novel has a good message about staying true to yourself, about doing right by others, & there is a romance with a certain vicar, Mr. Weston.

I doubt I’ll ever re-read ‘Agnes Grey’, but I do recommend it to those who would like more understanding of the role of a governess & its historical insight into Victorian life.

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