When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes’ enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Bronte’s first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society.
This is the first Anne Bronte novel I have read, and the first completed in my Bronte Sister’s Challenge. I was unsure as to how this would read, seen as Anne’s sister’s seem to be more successful than her. However, I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and interesting. From the start I was gripped and enjoyed being taken to Victorian society. To be honest, the ending didn’t surprise me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think I would regard this as female fiction as well as a classic.
This book provoked mixed emotions in me. There were times when I really felt for Agnes and her situation, and times when I found her acting superior to her charges, and her self-righteousness annoyed me. However, being the daughter of a clergyman this is probably not a surprise; and some of the children were horrid – although reading about their mischief did make me chuckle. I did like Agnes’ mother and sister though – such a lovely family unit and I found myself looking forward to her visits home.
I found this an enjoyable book that was easy to get into, and easy to remain involved with. It didn’t take me long to get through it and I am glad I started my challenge with this book. I’m looking forward to reading more by Anne Bronte
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